Where to Find AIDS Information Online

Article excerpt

Since 1981 when the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first recognized as a disease state, the amount of AIDS-related information has grown enormously. Initially, online access to that information was difficult because nomenclature for the disease did not standardize for some time. MEDLINE, the major medical database from the National Library of Medicine, did not adopt the subject term 'Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome" until May, 1983.

For pertinent research and clinical information about AIDS, medical libraries and other information centers have relied on databases traditionally used in the health sciences: MEDLINE (Index Medicus), EMBASE (Excerpta Medica), PSYCINFO (Psychological Abstracts), and BIOSIS PREVIEWS (Biological Abstracts). Non-technical information for the lay public could easily be gleaned from MAGAZINE INDEX, NATIONAL NEWSPAPER INDEX, or other online indexes to the popular media. Most information provided has been bibliographic -references to journal articles and monographs.

As AIDS has come to the forefront of the national and international consciousness, other online sources have become available which concentrate specifically on AIDS information in both bibliographic and full-text formats. Information professionals, already familiar with the standard biomedical online sources, may overlook these potentially valuable new resources.

TARGETED USER GROUPS AIDS-related information online tends to address three main user groups:

(1) Professionals, including researchers, physicians, allied health personnel, counselors, and other care givers. Databanks such as AMANET, BRS, DIALOG, and MEDLARS are the most important for this group.

(2) The general "lay" public. Information intended for this group is primarily aimed at increasing awareness and education levels regarding AIDS, and can be found on databanks such as CompuServe and Delphi.

(3) PWA (people-with-AIDS) and PWARC (people-with-AlDS-Related-Complex). This group's need for current and accurate information is understandably critical. Much material is generated and compiled by PWA/PWARC themselves, and is found on databanks such as CompuServe and Delphi as well as independent bulletin board systems. This "grassroots" exchange is fostered by what appears to be a distrust of official and "establishment" sources, comprising somewhat of an information underground.

These categories of targeted user groups serve to delineate the wide range of AIDS information available online.

AIDS SPECIALTY SOURCES ON BRS

BRS Information Technologies offers four AIDS databases. Two are full-text and two are bibliographic.

ASFG: AIDS KNOWLEDGE BASE FROM SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL HOSPITAL

ASFG offers full-text information in monographic chapter form contributed by physicians affiliated with the San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California at San Francisco. Produced by the Massachusetts Medical Society, this database is designed for use by clinicians, researchers, nurses, public health personnel, administrators, educators, and others working in the subject area.

ASFG is a combination of current primary research/clinicalliterature and reports of ongoing experience from patient cases. In addition to the standard medical and scholarly journals, other types of literature are also utilized: legal statutes, newspaper reports, and psychological records. ASFG chapter format facilitates access to specific topics, including epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention and treatment, and societal or psychological aspects of AIDS. Chapter titles include:

*Epidemiology and transmission of HIV infection

*Testing for human immunodeficiency virus

* Human immunodeficiency virus and pathogenesis of AIDS

* Clinical manifestations of AIDS

* Infections associated with AIDS

* Malignancies associated with AIDS

*AIDS-related conditions (ARC)

* Pediatric AIDS

* Systems of care for the AIDS patient

* Health policy issues related to AIDS

* Public education and prevention strategies

* Ethical issues related to AIDS Each chapter offers its own detailed table of contents divided into section headings. …