Doing your own research online can be one of the best ways to learn about HIV. There are lots of excellent resources for learning about HIV on the internet, whether you’re just interested in “the basics” or are looking to deepen your understanding of specific topics; however, there is also a wealth of outdated and misleading information on the internet. Here you can find recommendations of reliable sites to get started when you’re doing your own research.
Tips for discerning good internet sources from false/misleading/opportunistic/outdated sources:
- Maintain a healthy skepticism, especially about claims that sound too good to be true or sites that are trying to sell you a product.
- Take a look at who/what organization runs the website – that should be posted in a clear and obvious way. If it is an organization you haven’t heard of, it never hurts to look into their purpose, who funds the site, who is affiliated, their past work, etc.
- If a website is discussing scientific or medical information, it should provide its sources/references. Take a look at those sources. Reliable scientific or medical sources include government reports (such as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or your local Health Department), scientific articles in “peer reviewed” journals, or sometimes the opinion of medical experts whose credentials you should be able to confirm.
- Look at the last time the site was updated and when the sources/references were published. HIV is a field that continues to rapidly change as research advances, so a site that is a few years out of date may no longer be consistent with our best information.
- If you are finding conflicting or confusing information, consider discussing it with your doctor or calling the Madison Clinic Health Educator, Liza Flynn (206-744-5564).