A groundbreaking online resource, MyHIV, is now providing support for over 2,000 people living with HIV in the UK.
MyHIV is part of an innovative suite of online, face to face and telephone support services, entitled Life Plus, which have been created by Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and people with HIV, to deliver more personalised, cost effective and peer-led support for people living with HIV in the UK. The new digital support was launched in January this year and is transforming the way people living with the virus manage their condition long-term.
Around 69,000 people are diagnosed with HIV, and accessing care, in the UK. It is now the nation’s fastest growing, incurable health condition. Terrence Higgins Trust’s new resource, www.MyHIV.org.uk, is a ‘one-stop shop’ where people can access authoritative, accredited information and confidential one-to-one or group support through text or video chat, at any time of the day or night.
Over 2,000 people are now registered to the site, accessing and sharing personal experiences and discussing sensitive issues such as being newly diagnosed, navigating treatment options, how to disclose HIV status to partners and how to manage safer sex in relationships where only one partner may be HIV positive. Peer support is promoted through the site and its vibrant online community and members have recently initiated a new ‘MyHIV Action Group’ which influences UK HIV policy and explores ways to promote HIV awareness and reduce the stigma that can accompany an HIV diagnosis.
Members are making use of the site’s integrated suite of HIV self-management tools tailored to their individual needs, requirements and stage of diagnosis, wherever they live in the UK. These include a supportive online forum community, reminder functions for medication and clinic appointments, online counselling and advice and the option to privately and securely store information on health and treatment to monitor and actively manage their HIV and stay adherent to treatment. Site content continues to be developed to meet the needs of all audiences and forums are growing from strength to strength.
Chris, aged 47, started using MyHIV as soon as it launched: “I’m on there most days. Reading about other people’s experiences has empowered me to be open. We should all be able to be out and proud to prevent HIV losing its visibility. I didn’t expect a website to have the effect it has on my life.”
Amelia, 51, said: “I have been positive for 19 years, and have told very few people so I’ve found the MyHIV forum a godsend. I can’t really put into words how much it has helped me”.
James, 29, said: “I’m just very grateful that I’ve found this forum…from just posting something last night, I’ve had a response to my nine month quandary within 12 hours, from let’s face it, the people with the real know how.”
Terrence Higgins Trust’s Deputy Chief Executive, Paul Ward, said: “This free resource was designed by people with HIV, for people with HIV, so we’re delighted it’s making a real difference to so many people’s lives. Members are gaining support on difficult issues; everything from attitudes to HIV and testing in the gay community to dating and sex and changing perceptions of HIV and AIDS. If you’re living with HIV, don’t go it alone; log on to www.MyHIV.org.uk and make use of the wealth of support that is there.”
“MyHIV is one of the first programmes that uses new technology to really help people manage a long term chronic health condition” comments Anne Aslett, Executive Director of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “This is a real innovation that we plan to extend to smart phones in the near future, as the Foundation has done successfully with the HIV ichart application”.