The AIDS Education Global information System (AEGiS.org) is a nonprofit organization that was established in response to the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic. Our mission is aimed to:
- Facilitate access to current patient/clinician information specific to HIV/AIDS via our website and its specified services.
- Preserve for future generations a global history of the pandemic with our historical news, scientific publications and treatment database.
Since AEGiS' inception, it has matured into the largest free-access virtual AIDS library on earth. Today, AEGiS consists of more than 1.3 million articles, covering the world from 1981 to the present, and logging more than 19 million visitors annually.
To accomplish this, our small content staff of five scours the Internet daily for new acquisitions, sorts through our wire news-feeds, downloads HIV/AIDS publications and conference abstracts, in order to create an electronic format with HTML coding. In some cases we have created the first electronic version of these historical documents. The information acquired is processed into a fully-indexed, cross-referenced, and keyword searchable database, available via the World Wide Web, RSS, NNTP, and E-mail. In addition, individual queries are answered through a variety of e-communication lines, including our Ask the Doc forum.
On top of that, most technology used at AEGiS is purchased, built, and maintained to the highest standards in-house by our staff.
For nearly 20 years AEGiS has kept pace with HIV/AIDS social and clinical aspects. We believe that the dissemination of potentially life saving information has made a difference to many people throughout the world. For those that have HIV management questions and needs, AEGiS has proved to be a trusted source. AEGiS serves to illuminate all developments on the HIV/AIDS front, the question is -- what do you want to know about HIV/AIDS today?
Want to tell someone about AEGiS?
Click here to access the PDF version of our brochure.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here
Brief HIV/AIDS History
It has been more than 20 years since HIV first appeared as a potential threat to the future of humanity. From the first five cases reported in Los Angeles, in 1981, the number of infections has risen to more than 40 million worldwide. As many experts agree, this is just the tip-of-the iceberg. Today, according to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), "one in 250 Americans is HIV positive, and one in 500 knows it," and every year new infections in the United States have totaled 40,000. Despite these horrendous statistics, real-life education and accessible treatment programs remain grossly underfunded both here in the U.S. and in other countries.
AEGIS -- pronounced EE-jis -- is a classic grassroots success story. In mid-1986, Orange County resident Jamie Jemison saw the potential of an online bulletin board system (BBS) devoted to HIV/AIDS. The BBS he called AEGIS (AIDS Education General Information Service), however, was ahead of its time. The cost and limitations of computers in homes was a substantial barrier to its use.
During this same time period Sister Mary Elizabeth 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 by providing online information and readily accessible telecommunication resources to all persons affected by the epidemic.
A truly successful AEGiS remained a dream until Jamie Jemison and Sister Mary Elizabeth connected in mid-1991....
Sister Mary Elizabeth suggested joining forces with Mr. Jemison. However, he had gone on to other pursuits and ceded the use of the name AEGiS to her. Ever since, she has made AEGiS her life's work, building AEGiS into a service the Centers for Disease Control calls "the best of its kind."
From September 1990, to April 1995, AEGiS operated under the auspices of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a small religious community founded in 1988. In April 1995, with the assistance of Christopher Quilter, Scott Mastrocinque, Katherine Jones, and Jim Schooler, AEGiS was reorganized as a nonprofit charitable and educational corporation under the laws of the state of California.
Internal Revenue Service 501(c)3 tax-exempt certification was granted on January 9, 1996.
With the advent of the World Wide Web and financial assistance from Roxanne Laboratories (now, Boehringer Ingelheim) AEGiS became AEGiS. In addition, our name was modified to AIDS Education Global Information System to emphasize our growing global presence. Usually, non-profits are identified as '.org', but, at that time the name AEGIS.org was owned by a Japanese organization, therefore the .com address was our only option. However, in the year 2000, Sister Mary sought out the name AEGiS.org, and it was for sale! Finally, AEGiS had the opportunity to adopt its rightful name and become: AEGiS.
Operation and Goals of AEGiS
Today, AEGiS is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit, tax-exempt, educational corporation. AEGiS adds more than 3,000 documents each month. We reach more than 10 million users annually, including: the US Federal Government, US Educational Institutions, and Nonprofit organizations both here and abroad.
To accomplish this, we collaborate with AIDS Service Organizations (ASO), commercial and nonprofit news agencies, Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO), as well as Governmental organizations.
Our goals are to archive, and make easily available, factual HIV/AIDS information to all those in need. We require no registration and no access fee.
AEGiS readers can also pose an anonymous question to our on-line panel of HIV specialists at no charge. Our interactive Ask the Doc forum allows individuals to direct questions anonymously to our volunteer physician panel, all of which specialize in HIV medicine. These physicians answer the questions, which are both forwarded to the specific individual, and then posted to the Ask the Doc online database.
Another aspect of our project is the development of an AIDS conference abstract database. Every year literally dozens of conferences are held around the world, where physicians and scientists present their latest findings about HIV/AIDS. The information from these conferences produces the core data that each news article and publication about HIV/AIDS is derived from. Our goal is to scan these abstracts into our database and restore tabular data and graphics that are omitted from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Gateway database, so that we can provide an entire information package for the people of the world to have at their fingertips. We see this as a priceless tool for those that are geographically isolated or challenged by
deficient research libraries. No place exists, virtual or actual, that has this collection of HIV/AIDS Conference absrtacts, some are the only electronic versions created.
In addition to these educational sources, our web-based material takes form not only from factual data and published news articles, but also from the ideas that come about by electronic communication with the people that use AEGiS. We are constantly looking for new sources to assist with the process of futhering someone's HIV/AIDS knowledge and offering inspiration. We hope that sharing stories may encourage further understanding and empathy, while reducing discrimination.
Much of our motivation comes from the numerous communications we have received from members of the global community, who tell us how important the ability to access reliable HIV/AIDS information anytime is to them.
The American Medical Association, CDC, and Britannica have ranked AEGiS as one of the "best of the best." AEGiS was selected as a Discovery Channel resource in 1997-98. In 1999, AEGiS was a finalist in the 4th Global Internet Initiative award program. Additionally, AEGiS was the first U.S. organization to be nominated to UNESCO's "Memory of the World" program in 1999.
The year 2003 was a bonus year for AEGiS, as UNESCO recognized AEGiS for its part in global AIDS education, and the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and International Association of Physicians in AIDS care (IAPAC) bestowed their "Award of Courage" and the "Jonathan Mann Health and Human Rights Award" on our founder. Previous recipients of the Jonathan Mann award were President William Jefferson Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, 2004 Nobel prize nominee Zachie Achmat, and Ambassador Stephan Lewis, UN Special Envoy for AIDS to South Africa.
In 2004, the International AIDS Society (IAS), representing the world’s largest professional society for scientists, health care and public health workers, and others engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention, control and care, recommended AEGiS as the leading database for current, historical and clinical HIV/AIDS information.
For more information, please visit our Awards page
List of current Board of Directors:
President - Lisa Hoskins
Secretary/Treasurer - Sr. Mary Elizabeth, OSM
Director - Daniel G. Busby, D.M.A.
Director - Kathleen M. Conwell-Doyle
Director - Dr. Caroll Yap
Director - James Dinkel
Director - Elizabeth (Betty) Canepa
Advisors: Dr. Mark Katz (Medical), Ron Spingarn, Rob Lobue (Technical)
Advisor's at-large: Beth Nye, Dr. John Barrows, Myron Crider
Assistant Operations Director, and Founder: Sister Mary Elizabeth
Operations Director, Fundraiser, Ask the Doc On-line Coordinator: Vanessa Robison
Content Analyst, E-communications Director: Lisa Hoskins
Business Manager: Jeff Greer
"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 HIV/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."
-- Chris Quilter
This article was last modified in: 04/03/2012