What is ÆGiS?

The AIDS Education Global Information System (ÆGiS) is a nonprofit, user-supported, on-line information resource. It is the single most comprehensive source of HIV/AIDS information in the world.

What is the History of ÆGiS?

ÆGiS is a classic grassroots success story. In the mid-1980s, Orange County resident Jamie Jemison saw the potential of an on-line bulletin board system (BBS) devoted to HIV/AIDS. The BBS he called ÆGiS, however, was ahead of its time. The cost and limitations of computers and modems at that time for both a BBS and individuals were substantial barriers to their use. ÆGiS remained a dream until he and Sister Mary Elizabeth of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, connected in mid-1991.

In 1990, she had launched the "HIV/AIDS Info BBS", motivated by a stay in a small Midwest farm community where she met several persons living with AIDS. They were profoundly isolated by illness, small town fears, and geography. In their need, she saw a way to put her technical skills to a spiritual use.

Sister Mary Elizabeth suggested joining forces with Mr. Jemison. However, he had gone on to other pursuits and ceded the use of the name ÆGiS to her. Ever since, she has made ÆGiS her life's work, building ÆGiS into a service the Centers for Disease Control calls "the best of its kind."

From September, 1990, to April, 1995, ÆGiS was operated under the auspices of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a small religious community founded in 1988. In April, 1995, Sister Mary Elizabeth initiated steps to reorganize ÆGiS as a nonprofit charitable and educational corporation under the laws of the state of California. The Internal Revenue Service issued ÆGiS 501c(3) tax-exempt advance ruling certification on January 9, 1996.

With funding from Roxane Laboratories (now Boehringer Ingelheim) and the National Library of Medicine, AEGiS ported its database to the world wide web in July, 1996.

What is the Mission of ÆGiS?

The "magic bullet" to cure or prevent HIV infection has not been found, and too many people with or affected by HIV/AIDS are isolated by cultural, geographic, and economic barriers. In these times, how must we fight AIDS and relieve the human suffering it causes? We believe the answer will be found in the transformation of information into knowledge. For that to happen, information must be easily accessible and widely disseminated. It must be used.

To promote this process ÆGiS, through 1997, utilized a combination of FidoNet® (connecting over 32,000 electronic bulletin boards in 66 countries) and Internet communication tools. In this way, we seek to relieve some of the suffering and isolation caused by HIV/AIDS, and foster the understanding and knowledge that will lead to better care, prevention, and a cure.

Since its inception in 1990, ÆGiS has matured into a robust, fully operational service with a global network of users. The range of information available is so vast, its quality so dependable, that national and international organizations routinely log onto the system to converse or download clinical information or late-breaking news.

Are there alternatives to ÆGiS?

Many non-profit and commercial organizations provide on-line HIV/AIDS information. Few can match the breath and depth of ÆGiS, which contains several gigabytes of information stored in over 452,144 files. As a comprehensive, up-to-date, resource with a global reach that is free to the user, ÆGiS is unique.

Is ÆGiS difficult to Use and Learn?

ÆGiS is as user-friendly as it is powerful. ÆGiS screens are straightforward and easy to understand even by computer novices. ÆGiS is "keyword searchable", so topics can be found by typing in a few simple instructions. The ÆGiS web site is up to date to be compatible with all the modern web browsers.

This article was last modified in: 04/03/2012