The bad news is school has finally caught up with me and I have entered crunch time.  Projects are piling up and my readings are interfering with TV and my fun books.  The good news – I’m really excited to begin researching my paper topic for this class (JHU – Intro to the Digital Age).  

This is the beginning of a conversation about how people living with HIV/AIDS are using the Internet for social and medical support.  I’m planning to explore how coping with HIV/AIDS looks in the Digital Age.  I say the beginning or start of a conversation because throughout the research process I will ask you some questions, post new findings, link to interesting websites/blogs/tweet convos, and perhaps invite you to join advocacy groups.  I hope you will participate!

First and extremely broad questionWhere are people talking about (living with, coping with, and treating) HIV/AIDS (blogs, medical websites, Facebook groups, Twitter..etc)?

Just in case you were wondering here is a little tid-bit about my topic:

Although discovered nearly 20 years ago, HIV/AIDS remains among the most serious disease pandemics of our time.  No health crisis compares to HIV/AIDS in its need for emotional and informational support.  Individuals living with HIV/AIDS have utilized traditional means of support (i.e. family, friends and community-based or faith-based organizations) when coping with the illness.  However, as we enter the digital age, the Internet has become a valuable means of support. We are experiencing a shift in the way people are connected – we now live in networked societies.  Since the Internet explosion of the 1990s, much of social support networking takes place online.  Internet technology advances continue to revolutionize medical/health education and support.  The Internet is becoming a major source of information and support for people with chronic medical illnesses, including HIV/AIDS.

Scholars, health groups, and policy makers are working to better understand how the Internet contributes to or detracts from social support.  Research continually reveals people living with HIV/AIDS use the Internet for research, finding information, making social connections, advocacy, and emotional escape. Studies show Internet activities (i.e. sociability, entertainment and information seeking) correlate with the elements of social support.  Most studies argue people living with HIV/AIDS may experience health benefits from using the Internet.  Men and women living with HIV/AIDS frequently use the Internet to access health-related information and for social functions.  Early findings suggest a relationship between using the Internet for health-related information and health benefits among people living with HIV/AIDS.

The increasing need to deliver time efficient and effective patient care and social support provides strong evidence for the development of eHealth applications and online networks.  Internet support groups have emerged because of individuals’ need to know more about health conditions they are confronting.  The rapid increase of these online communities provides an opportunity for health educators to reach target populations with specific messages.  Overall, little is known about how and what types of various online resources are being used.  The proposed purpose of my study will investigate how individuals living HIV/AIDS use the Internet when coping with their illness.

 

 

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