During the last several years, current, top-quality medical
information has become much more accessible due to widespread
use of computer communication. As in other fields, it takes
time for people to work out the best ways to use the new
tools. This article looks at AIDS World Wide Web sites which
are intended primarily for medical professionals, but also
are available to anyone.
The most important information online includes:
This article will briefly review some of the major AIDS
medical sites on the World Wide Web. There are hundreds of
other credible sites we could have included; fortunately,
most if not all of them can be reached through one or more
links from the sites we have reviewed. If you know of sites
not listed below which would be of interest to our readers,
let us know; this article is part of a series about online
AIDS treatment information, so we can add others later.
- Rapid reports from professional conferences. In the
presenters' abstracts were often printed for participants,
but usually the only way someone who did not attend the
conference could get a copy was to borrow one from a
colleague who did. Now abstracts from many AIDS conferences
are available through the World Wide Web, often from the day
the conference begins; they can be read or printed from an
office or home computer anywhere in the world, usually
without charge, any time 24 hours a day. (Conferences would
be more productive if the abstracts were made available
*before* the meeting, so that those who attended could be
better prepared to use their scarce conference time
effectively. But this is still the exception, due to
proprietary or competitive habits.)
Another important advance is the detailed summaries from AIDS
conferences, often by teams which combine leading research
physicians with medical writers. Usually these reports are
online within days or weeks of the meeting; some are even
written overnight and then available throughout the world the
- Very current standards of care from leading medical
centers. For example, the standard of care for HIV disease at
Johns Hopkins -- a top research institution which also has
extensive practical experience treating thousands of HIV
patients in Baltimore -- is now updated monthly online (the
printed version, which has long been available, is updated
annually). Medical professionals and patients alike can
compare the care they are receiving with what Johns Hopkins
and other major institutions are doing.
- Research databases, like MEDLINE and AIDSLINE.These have
long been available by computer, usually by a dial-up
connection -- after an account had been set up, and software
obtained and installed. Now these databases and some others
can be searched free by anyone, anywhere in the world, who
can access the World Wide Web. There is no need to install
special software, or to make arrangements in advance --
greatly facilitating access from developing countries, and
also allowing near-complete anonymity for anyone who may be
concerned about the confidentiality of their inquiries.
[Note: We will focus on research databases in a future
- Full text journals. Some are now online, providing
searchable content, reliable access even to current issues
which are often hard to find in libraries, and usually an
extensive archive. But due to proprietary and marketing
concerns, most journals are not online at this time, or are
restricted. Some sites provide selected important medical
articles, with permission.
- Continuing medical education (CME) courses. Medical
professionals can take them for credit, but anyone can use
them for their own information and education. The online
format usually has the advantages of being freely available
to anyone, regardless of status or geography, being available
at the most convenient time for each user, and including a
test which provides immediate results.
- Clinical trials information, many reference books,
directories of services provided by different medical
centers, and many other kinds of information, are also
available through the World Wide Web. Often the same material
can be found in print, or through telephone hotlines (which
usually means that an information specialist is using the
same database, so that the caller does not need to have
research skills nor computer access). Compared to print
publications, the online versions are usually more current,
and they can be used from anywhere, whether or not a
specialized library is nearby.
AIDS Medical Sites
Many of the sites listed below include links to the new
treatment guidelines (which we reported in AIDS TREATMENT
NEWS #274), and to the research databases of the U.S.
National Library of Medicine (which we will describe in a
future issue). To avoid repetition, we have often not
mentioned these links in discussing the sites below.
We listed links to information about major conferences in a
separate section, below.
Note: If you need to type in the World Wide Web addresses
(URLs), note that capitalization *does* matter. Also, note
that a few addresses do not include the usual 'www'. And the
'html' which appears in some addresses is using the letter
'l', not the number '1'.
The Johns Hopkins University AIDS Service Web Site
The new Johns Hopkins AIDS site is one of the best organized
of the AIDS Web sites, and is likely to be one of the most
useful for medical professionals. It includes:
When you first get to this site, you will see a column of
buttons on the left of the screen, which are links to major
areas of this site, including most of those listed above. If
you do not immediately see what you want, use the "Table of
Contents" button to get to the site index, which provides
more complete information about exactly what is available --
with links to individual articles, cases, listings, programs,
or other subcategories.
- MEDICAL MANAGEMENT OF HIV INFECTION, 1997 EDITION, by John
G. Bartlett, M.D. This document, 300 pages when printed in
book form, is the AIDS standard of care at Johns Hopkins. It
is divided into seven sections (Natural History; Laboratory
Tests; Disease Prevention; Antiretroviral Therapy;
Opportunistic Infections; Guide to Drugs; and Systems
Review), each on a separate Web page for convenient viewing
or printing. This online document is updated monthly.
- Case Rounds. Two cases are now discussed online, more will
- Outcomes Research. Currently there are seven articles in
this section, from cost effectiveness of antiretroviral
therapy, to adherence, to managed care.
- AIDS Epidemiology.
- HIV Women's Issues.
- Information about the Johns Hopkins AIDS Services -- and
its ongoing clinical trials.
- 7th Annual Clinical Care of the Patient with HIV Infection
Conference. Unfortunately only two lectures are available as
this issue goes to press -- and they can only be heard with
special software from Microsoft, which can be downloaded but
at this time runs only on Windows 95. Otherwise, all you can
do is see the slides.
- A calendar of events and conferences.
- Links to other sites, including government guidelines,
other U.S. government AIDS-related sites, major journals,
newspapers and wire services, HIV/AIDS hotlines, and other
HIV InSite (University of California AIDS Web site)
(do not type www in this address)
This University of California site covers various aspects of
AIDS, not only treatment related. Its medical sections
We described this site in more detail in AIDS Treatment News
- The AIDS Knowledge Base, a 1600-page textbook, with the
latest updates on the site;
- A searchable database of AIDS clinical trials throughout
the U.S., designed to search for trials for a particular
- Treatment guidelines, medical and scientific articles, U.S.
and international statistics, etc.
AIDS Program at San Francisco General Hospital
Information about the HIV/AIDS programs and services at the
University of California/San Francisco General Hospital
medical center, including treatment, research, and education.
It includes a directory of the medical staff, listed by name
and by specialty.
JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) HIV/AIDS
The JAMA site, run by the American Medical Association,
provides various practical information to physicians. The
HIV/AIDS Information Center on this site is divided into
- Journal Scan, consists of certain articles about HIV
disease which have been published in medical journals,
selected as particularly important for educating physicians
who may not be HIV specialists. Full text is available,
- Free access to four databases of the National Library of
Medicine: AIDSLINE, AIDSTRIALS, AIDSDRUGS, and BIOETHICSLINE.
(We will describe the National Library of Medicine databases
later in a separate article.)
- The site is developing a service to allow medical
professionals to email HIV treatment questions to a panel of
experts; the answers will then be published on the site as a
"FAQ" ("frequently asked questions," a document listing
common questions and their answers). This format has proven
widely useful on the Internet as a cost-effective way of
providing expert answers to peoples' questions -- for once
the FAQ has been developed, most new inquiries will have
already been answered and will not need more of the experts'
time. Hopefully the FAQ will be available to the general
public, even if the chance to ask questions is still reserved
for professionals. (There is no issue of confidentiality,
since identifying information would be removed from the
questions before they are published.)
- A Global Link section has links to AIDS-related Web sites
in over 20 countries. Also there are links to U.S. government
sites, and academic institutions.
Healthcare Communications Group
Healthcare Communications Group enlists leading HIV experts
and medical writers to write detailed summaries of major HIV
conference presentations. Often these appear as a one-hour or
two-hour CME (continuing medical education) training module
for each day of the conference; they are made available on
the Web so that anyone can use them. Credit for medical
professionals is available for six months, and the conference
summaries remain online for at least a year. In addition,
Healthcare Communications Group organizes an annual meeting
for 400 front-line HIV physicians, and publishes an online
and print journal.
HCG can publish online more rapidly than medical journals.
For some conferences, overnight summaries are available
worldwide the next morning, written by experts who work late
into the night and review each other's work; for other
meetings, summaries are published within weeks. This material
is made available free to anyone through the Web -- and
sometimes is the only readily accessible information about a
major talk or panel discussion. The work is supported largely
by unrestricted educational grants from pharmaceutical
Some of the currently available conference summaries report
on the recent resistance meeting (the International Workshop
on HIV Drug Resistance, Treatment Strategies, and
Eradication, St. Petersburg, Florida, June 25-28 1997), the
1st National AIDS Malignancy Conference (U.S. National Cancer
Institute, April 1997), the 4th Conference on Retroviruses
and Opportunistic Infections (Washington D.C., January 1997),
the XI International Conference on AIDS (Vancouver, July
1996), and Healthcare Communications Group's 7th Annual
Symposium, a three-day meeting for front-line HIV physicians
Other information available includes:
- Nutrition and Wasting in HIV, a new online CME course
authored by Donald P. Kotler, M.D., June 1997.
- Seropositive Patient -- Initial Encounter, updated in May
- The new government documents on the principles of HIV
therapy, and antiretroviral treatment guidelines, converted
by Healthcare Communications Group so that they can be read
directly on the World Wide Web, without a special download
- Healthcare Communications Group has also started an online
journal, HIV JOURNAL, on its site. Medical professionals can
obtain a print version of the journal by calling Medical
Education Collaborative, 800/442-6632.
International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care
This site includes articles from the JOURNAL OF THE
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PHYSICIANS IN AIDS CARE, and
much additional AIDS information directed both to
professionals and to the public. It includes:
- Highlights from many conferences, both as journal articles
and as additional online reports;
- A section on women's health issues;
- A section on pediatrics;
- A nutrition page;
- Information in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.
National Library of Medicine
Free access to AIDSLINE and MEDLINE databases, as well as to
other information services and publications offered by the
world's largest medical library.
Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Group
Information about the Adult ACTG, its key people, meetings,
and structure and operations. It includes links to Web sites
run by the various medical centers of the ACTG.
Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group
Information about the Pediatric ACTG, similar to the adult
CPCRA (Community Programs For Clinical Research on AIDS)
Materials include background information and an overview of
programs including clinical trials; CPCRA papers, reports and
presentations; and how to locate and contact CPCRA sites.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Note the link to AIDS, under Research Activities.
National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project
In-depth reports focusing on protease inhibitors and other
antiretrovirals. Note the July 1997 edition of PROTEASE
INHIBITOR USER'S GUIDE, a 38-page book for patients on
adherence, side effects, food, hydration, drug interactions,
etc. (not on site as we go to press); medical centers can
order bulk copies without charge by calling NATAP at 212/219-
Protease Inhibitor Response Project;
This site, for both physicians and patients, was set up "to
gather information from patients who are taking combinations
of anti-HIV drugs, especially combinations involving protease
inhibitors... We are collecting stories from people who have
failed protease inhibitors, or who have had unusual responses
to the drugs." Examples of unusual responses: viral load did
not drop rapidly after starting combination therapy; viral
load rebounded after dropping; or viral load remained high
but T-cell counts increased anyway.
This project, started by Rick Loftus, a research associate at
Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, includes
separate questionnaires for patients using protease
inhibitors and for prescribers of the drugs, and also a
section on how the information will be used.
The Access Project
Information on programs to help pay for HIV/AIDS drugs -- a
drug by drug list of pharmaceutical company patient
assistance programs, state by state information on ADAP
programs and Medicaid, and descriptions of expanded access
and compassionate use programs.
Journals and other AIDS-related publications available
These lists lead to Web sites of medical journals and other
AIDS-relevant publications which are available on the World
Vanderbilt University Medical Center HIV AIDS Online Help
This specialized service allows persons to ask about how to
research particular questions about AIDS. Information
specialists answer the questions by email.
Pharmaceutical Company Sites
Links to corporate Web sites of over 15 companies involved in
The Merck Manual
The Merck corporate site includes a link to a searchable
online version of this well-known medical reference.
Immunology conferences' searchable abstracts, links, other
information. Most immunology conferences have little focus on
HIV or AIDS, where research has been dominated by virology.
The AIDS community needs to work toward overcoming this
Conference Abstracts, Reports, and Summaries on the Web
Here are Web addresses for abstracts and reports from recent
AIDS conferences and meetings.
International Workshop on HIV Drug Resistance, Treatment
Strategies and Eradication
June 25-28, 1997, St. Petersburg, Florida
Report by William A. O'Brien, M.D.;
Report by Steven G. Deeks, M.D.;
Others are being prepared.
We have not seen the abstracts of this resistance workshop
online, as of July 12, but above detailed reports are
available. The one by O'Brien is somewhat less technical and
may be best to read first.
7th Annual Clinical Care Options for HIV Symposium
May 29-June 1, 1997, Laguna Niguel, California
Summaries of major talks given at the meeting.
National Conference on Women and HIV
May 4-7, 1997, Los Angeles
Program and daily highlights. The conference abstracts can be
browsed or searched on:
1st National AIDS Malignancy Conference
April 28-30, 1997, Bethesda, Maryland
Program; searchable abstracts; daily summaries. Up to six
hours of CME credit is available.
Second International Conference on Nutrition and HIV
April 23-25, 1997, Cannes
Program, abstracts, and index to abstracts.
4th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic
January 22-26, 1997, Washington, D.C.
Searchable abstracts; Selected lectures (voice and slides) --
Unofficial summaries and reports prepared at the time of this
conference are available at:
XI International Conference on AIDS
July 7-12, 1996, Vancouver
Abstracts, searchable by keyword, title, and/or author.
Oxidative Stress and Redox Regulation
May 21-24, 1996, Institut Pasteur, Paris
Program and searchable abstracts.
Upcoming Conferences and Meetings
Here are Web sites for information about future conferences.
Infectious Diseases Society of America
annual meeting, September 12-16, 1997, San Francisco
This site includes a preliminary program and general
information for the IDSA annual meeting in San Francisco,
apparently not including registration information. Several
sessions are HIV-related. There is also a guide for abstract
submission (late breaker abstracts must be received on forms
provided by August 15).
37th ICAAC (Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and
September 28 - October 1, 1997, Toronto
Complete program, meeting arrangements, registration
information. The keynote talk and a number of the slide and
poster sessions concern AIDS. (Our experience has been that
ICAAC has more valuable AIDS-related information in
odd-numbered years, when the international AIDS conference is not
Abstracts may be submitted through the site, or by email, or
on paper (late breaker deadline, September 5).
First International Conference on Healthcare Resource Allocation
for HIV/AIDS and Other Life-Threatening Illnesses
November 10-11, 1997, Marriott Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by the International Association of Physicians in
AIDS Care, cosponsored by AIDS Action Council and Harvard
12th World AIDS Conference
June 28-July 3, 1998, Geneva
No program is available yet, as the program will be built
around the abstracts submitted, and the deadline for
abstracts is February 2, 1998.
Copyright 1997 by John S. James. Permission granted for
noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone
number are included if more than short quotations are used.