Area Non-Profit Fights AIDS With Information
Roye A. Bourke
Press Release: SATELLIFE, an international non-profit organization based in Watertown, MA, has launched an HIV/AIDS electronic newsletter for health professionals in the developing world, especially in Africa, where the epidemic is most widespread and up-to-date information is unavailable or unaffordable.
The e-mail-based publication is a supplement to HealthNet News, a weekly publication currently distributed by SATELLIFE to health professionals in Africa, Asia and Latin America. HealthNet News-AIDS, published twice a month, will feature summaries of articles, abstracts, full text articles, clinical guidelines, Web sites, and other relevant information.
The specific content areas of the new AIDS publication will focus on prevention, diagnosis, epidemiology, therapeutics, education and best practices surrounding the AIDS epidemic. Research conducted in Africa but published in international medical journals will be a key feature of the newsletter.
Initial response from health professionals, mostly in Africa, has been overwhelmingly positive. One doctor from Kenya writes, "I found your articles very informative…and some of your information could be put into immediate clinical use in certain situations."
Early projections by SATELLIFE, targeting 200 delivery points within the first six months of publication, were surpassed in less than a month. Launched on March 31st, the AIDS newsletter already has 175 registered subscribers. This number, however, is much lower than the actual number of readers. "According to our estimates, at least 3-5 users share one computer at each delivery point in the developing world," said Dr. Leela McCullough, Director of Information Services. "So actual readership is usually 3-5 times the number of e-mail addressees on our list."
The impetus for HealthNet News-AIDS came from SATELLIFE's experience during the last several years operating a global discussion group on HIV/AIDS in collaboration with the Harvard AIDS Institute. A subscriber evaluation indicated that the information repository of summarized medical literature on the mailing list was the most
useful component. To further support this effort, SATELLIFE launched the newsletter. According to Dr. McCullough, "Medicine is an information-driven enterprise, and current, reliable, relevant and useful information is the cornerstone of a physician's ability to heal.
"SATELLIFE is currently seeking a funding source to underwrite the cost of publishing the AIDS newsletter twice a month. "At the moment, we have no idea how we are going to pay for this publication," said Holly Ladd, Executive Director, "but the need for appropriate, current and relevant information on AIDS is so essential in the developing world, we felt we had to get it out as soon as possible."
SATELLIFE has royalty-free permission from some of the world's leading medical publishers to distribute selected material from their peer-reviewed journals to doctors, nurses, researchers and other health workers in the developing world. The HealthNet News-AIDS newsletter will contain, among other items, summaries of relevant articles and copyrighted journal material, with permission from the publishers. The Massachusetts Medical Society, a long time supporter of SATELLIFE, has granted permission to include material from its premier professional newsletter, AIDS Clinical Care, as well as from The New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal Watch series.
For the past 10 years, SATELLIFE has engaged in building knowledge networks through its e-mail based communications system called HealthNet. Collecting, organizing and disseminating information on a wide range of health issues relevant to developing countries, SATELLIFE has been recognized by the United Nations Development Program for its work using Internet technologies to reduce poverty and improve global health.