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What Do You Think?

The 1999 Body Positive Reader Survey

June 2000

In October and November of 1999 we asked for your guidance and assistance as we work to make Body Positive the most useful magazine it can be for people infected and affected by HIV/ AIDS. Over 300 of you replied to our Reader Survey, telling us who you are and what you like and dislike about the magazine.

First, a caveat: Since responding to the survey was solely voluntary on the part of each individual reader, the information we collected is not entirely representative of our readership as a whole. We know, for example, that prison inmates responded in numbers well in excess of their proportion of our readership, while very few of the many who read the magazine in their public libraries went through the hassle of photocopying the survey so they could reply.

Second, thanks to Tanya Jenkins and Cameron MacLean for entering the data.

Who Are You?

Not surprisingly, most of Body Positive's readers -- over 80 percent of those responding to the questionnaire -- have HIV or AIDS, almost half of them asymptomatic HIV.

Four times as many men as women, and just a few transgender individuals, responded to the survey. The numbers of straight and gay or lesbian respondents is about equal, a little over 40 percent, while at 13 percent the number of bisexuals constitutes a sizeable minority. A little under half of the respondents are white, a little over a quarter African-American, and just under a fifth Hispanic/Latin, with a few identifying themselves as Native American, Asian/Pacific Islander, mixed, or "other." Almost all are between the ages of 25 and 54.

Just under a fifth of those answering the survey report that they are employed full time, about the same as are on full disability. Others work part time, are looking for work, receive public assistance, or identify themselves as students, homemakers, or retired persons. Unhappily, over half report incomes of less than $10,000 per year. Most live alone or with a spouse or partner, in a large or small city.

What Are Your Preferences?

If we didn't know it before, we have certainly found out that our readers want information, and they want a lot of it! Asked to rate the importance of various topics and the sections that appear in the magazine regularly, respondents overwhelming rated every one of them "important" or "very important." Health-related topics such as medical treatment, alternative therapies, and food and nutrition generally got the highest marks. And singled out by many as especially important is the monthly publication of the Body Positive Creed, "You Are Not Alone."

Answers to the questions, "What do you like best about Body Positive magazine?" "What do you like least ...?" and "What would you like to see more of ...?" reflect the diversity of our readership and of the HIV/AIDS community. Large numbers of respondents like best and/or want more material dealing with gay issues, prisoners' concerns, straight people with HIV, women, and children and families. Large numbers also like least and/or want less material dealing with gay issues, prisoners' concerns, straight people with HIV, women, and children and families.

In Your Own Words

A sampling of comments from the reader survey:
  • "As a gay man, I am not very interested in articles pertaining to women, children, and families, but recognize their need for a divergent populace with HIV/AIDS."
  • "'You Are Not Alone' was the first encouraging article I read when I was diagnosed in 1991. It was the ONLY encouraging article available then."
  • Body Positive should go into some of the state penitentiaries and do one-on-one interviews with people who are infected with the virus."
  • "BP is great for keeping up, also for the thoughts of people with AIDS. Love the poems!"
  • "Not as many pages as I think it should be."
  • "Continuing focus on gay issues contributes to myth that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease."
  • "Of all the HIV/AIDS materials I read, Body Positive magazine is among the easiest to read and comprehend."
  • "Would like to see an article on vegetarian living positive, more on nutrition, specifics with concrete research."
  • "I'd like to read info on the deaf/hard of hearing and HIV, also people over 50 in a more deep way."

Laura Engle is Editor of Body Positive.

Back to the June 2000 issue of Body Positive magazine.

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This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.