Illinois: HIV-Positive and Looking for Help
April 16, 2008
Two Chicago-based AIDS organizations have teamed up to produce a Web site for people who are newly diagnosed with HIV, as well as for service providers, with a focus on accessing quality information and referrals. Test Positive Aware Network and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) helped to develop the PEERSpeak Web site; its content was developed by people with HIV/AIDS who have handled the medical, social, and other consequences of being newly diagnosed.
The site includes several character-based sections that portray new HIV/AIDS patients and the questions and situations they face. There is "Nicki," a 19-year-old studying to be a beautician and whose boyfriend did not want to use condoms. At the beginning, her character has no idea what to do when she finds out she has HIV.
A former heroin user, "Charles," used to inject with whatever needles were at hand, whether clean or not. Charles has battled with addiction for years and realizes he must focus on staying healthy in order to help fight his HIV infection. The site uses his story to provide advice for how HIV medication works, how to approach doctors and medical staff, and what certain lab results mean.
A gay male character is featured on the module about mental wellness and self-care. A fictional case worker helps clients find medical and social services.
There is also a list of Chicago-area and national resources available for those who do not wish to read through the character-based sections.
The National Library of Medicine awarded a $60,000 grant to help the organizations develop the site, and NogginLabs of Chicago developed and built the site on a mostly pro bono basis. A future, similar site will assist former prisoners on how to get housing, job referrals, and access services and health care, said John Clark of AFC.
4.15.2008; Judith Graham
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.