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The Goods | CYBURBIA

May These Sites Soon Be Obselete

February 02, 1996|DAVID COLKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A decade ago, if you wanted the latest information on AIDS research and experimental treatments, you had to go to a weekly gathering at County-USC Medical Center. There, in a stark meeting room, about 20 or 30 men would sit in a circle in folding chairs, listening intently to Dr. Alexandra Levine tell them bits of news she had gleaned from around the world.

At the end of one of those sessions, a once-robust man who had become painfully thin gave Levine a hug and said, "You know, in a hundred years, no one is going to even hardly know this happened."

Tragically, a time when the world can forget about AIDS is still in the realm of science fiction. The number of people with the disease has exploded since those emotionally charged meetings, and there is still neither cure nor vaccine. But much more is understood about the disease, and there have been great strides in treatment.

And for the latest information, you no longer need to go to the hospital complex (where Levine is now head of the department of hematology). Now that information is available from a variety of constantly updated sources, 24 hours a day, on the World Wide Web.

For more information on sites, pick up the February issue of the Net, a magazine that's proving to be the most consistently interesting and hippest of the numerous printed guides to the Web. In this issue, there is an article on "Finding AIDS/HIV Resources Online."

A good place to start is the "HIV InfoWeb," sponsored by a Boston-based AIDS information group at http://www.jri.org/infoweb/treatment/library/readlist.htm. This site offers links to a number of online newsletters and journals: AIDS Treatment News has information, gathered from interviews with physicians, researchers and people with AIDS, on standard and experimental treatments; the AIDS Information Newsletter, published by the San Francisco VA Medical Center, is targeted toward health care professionals but is for the most part accessible to lay people.

From the San Francisco AIDS Foundation comes BETA, a journal that includes, in addition to medical news, editorials on activist issues. Treatment Issues from the Gay Men's Heath Crisis, the New York-based organization that was one of the first organized to deal with AIDS issues, includes easily understood information about the latest in drug and other treatments.

Another good information hub is the AIDS Treatment Data Network at http://health.nyam.org:8000/public--html/network/index.html, sponsored by the New York Academy of Medicine. In addition to links to many of the publications listed above, it also includes in-depth information, in English and Spanish, on treatments and clinical trials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which keeps government data on AIDS, has a site at http:cdcnac.aspensys.com:86/actis.html. It offers links to news updates and to a site maintained by the National Library of Medicine that gives information on searching through clinical trial databases.

In the spirit of what Levine's patient said 10 years ago in that meeting room, let's all hope the time will come soon that this kind of Web search will produce nothing but historical data.

* Cyburbia's e-mail address is David.Colker@latimes.com.

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