AIDS.GOV | SERVICE LOCATOR | SEARCH

BLOG.AIDS.GOV

MENU

Second Life (Part 2 of “We Are Living in a Virtual World”)

Screen shot of Michelle Samplin-Salgado's second life avatar, Ellehcim Fizzle

This week we build on our June 10 post about virtual worlds and focus on the well-known site, Second Life Exit Disclaimer.

To better understand how Second Life can help share HIV information and provide support to those who are HIV-positive, we continued our conversation with our colleagues from the NIH-funded Health Info Island, Lori Bell and Carol Perryman. Through our own adventures in Second Life, we also learned from two HIV advocates, Felicita Gonzalez from the Bronx AIDS Services Exit Disclaimer and Matt Cox, an Australian and owner of the Planet Positive Group in Second Life.

How can we use virtual worlds for our HIV/AIDS work?

Screenshot of three second life avatars

Lori told us about the HIV/AIDS Information Center on Health Info Island in Second Life. This virtual building hosts HIV/AIDS support groups and provides HIV education to the general public. She noted,”consumer health information is one of the most important services we could provide. As more and more people of all ages use the Internet and spend increasing amounts of time online, we want to reach users where they are.”

Last December 1st, Health Info Island held the first virtual World AIDS Day with an online Health Fair offering trainings and support groups with participants whose”real life” locations were all over the world. Carol noted,”The HIV/AIDS Groups (comprised of HIV-positive individuals from all over the world) chose to meet with a nutritionist in Second Life to discuss nutrition and HIV. Members of the Group host social and educational events such as dances, displays, and seminars.”

AIDS.gov adventures in Second Life

Health Info Island on Second Life

Our New Media Strategist, Michelle Samplin-Salgado, volunteered to give Second Life a try, and created her own avatar,”Ellehcim Fizzle.” Michelle met Carol (“Carolina Keats” as she”s known in Second Life) from Health Info Island.”Carol gave me a walking tour of the Health Consumer Library. I saw the potential to gather HIV-related information, learn, and share with others in Second Life.”

On another trip to the AIDS Memorial Garden, Michelle met Felicita (“Lizzetta Zenovka” in Second Life) and Matt (his Second Life name is”HarleyMC Homewood”).

Matt and Felicita gave Michelle a tour of the Second Life HIV Support Network Headquarters Exit Disclaimer. Created by Ethan Kristopher-Hartley (his Second Life name is”Ethan LeSabre”), from the UK, this is a place where groups providing HIV related services can be utilized to hold meeting and/or events, and provide members of Second Life one location to find out about the different group services available that provide HIV related services. There she explored rooms created by Broadway Cares Exit Disclaimer, the Illinois Department of Public Health project, Basuah Exit Disclaimer, and a support group in the UK Exit Disclaimer. Matt is starting a room for his group Planet Positive, a group for HIV+ members and their families.”Second Life is superb at linking people from different countries,” he said.

Felicita and Matt discussed the role Second Life Plays in HIV prevention and support. Felicita said,”People can learn about HIV in the privacy of their own home without fear of being embarrassed to overcome the stigma attached to HIV.” Matt added,”…Second Life is user-generated. Even people who feel traumatized or powerless can do things in Second Life, like build links with other people, raise awareness, and raise funds.” He used chat rooms over many years to support other HIV-positive people.”Now I use this forum,” he says.”This is my way of just being there and “out there” for others who are infected.”

Have you spent time in Second Life? What did you find related to HIV/AIDS? In this peer-to-peer community we are just beginning to understand how they can be applied to our work. We look forward to hearing from you and getting your feedback.

Join us next week for our blog post about…blogs! We”ll be celebrating this blog”s six month anniversary.

About AIDS.gov

Comments

  1. Second Life News for July 2, 2008

    From: AIDS.gov Second Life (Part 2 of We Are Living in a Virtual World) Quote from the site – This week we build on our June 10 post about virtual worlds and focus on the well-known site, Second Life. To better understand how Second Life …

  2. The idea is good and the effort is commendable, however, until SecondLife really built huge amount of visits, the effort of spreading the message there won’t be paid off.
    It’s better to start off campaigning on facebook.com or myspace.com or any sites that have gathered similar visits.
    Anyway, my 2 cents.

  3. Simon P says:

    Second Life provide a great service.Giving people a forum in which they can share their experiences anonymously and free from any kind of social stigma is invaluable. It’s when we are at our lowest we need encouragement and and uplifting word and it holds more weight coming from someone who has traveled down the same path as yourself.
    Si

  4. Nik says:

    I think the idea of this program and reaching younger generations through a newer medium is a great idea. However, until the message is changed to one that kids will listen to then I don’t know if it will make much difference.

  5. Buy tramadol.

    Buy tramadol.

  6. Avnish says:

    The internet is probably the best vehicle for geting health information out to as many people as possible whilst avoiding expensive advertising.
    It also provides the opportunity of support groups, where people suffering various health conditions can share their ideas and experiences with others helping both themeselves and others

  7. M.Shealthly says:

    Having grown up in South Africa I’m sure you can appreciate how AIDS, education and nutrition played a big part of my life.
    As an African Nation it’s always been an uphill battle making sure (or at least trying to make sure) that the average man on the street was educated enough about the dangers of AIDS and how to prevent contraction.
    Of course the battle was not made easier when awareness in the government was not what it should have been
    “South African president’s refusal to accept medical evidence of virus was major obstacle to providing medicine” say Harvard researchers.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/26/aids-south-africa
    This post is not a blame post or finger pointing session, but I just want to share some of the frustrations that you can experience when you are not only fighting the disease but also those that really have the power to bring about some change.
    And so when I hear about educational programs like what you are doing, I can only sigh, feel a tad disappointed, but obviously happy for you, and wish that we had that level of commitment.
    All the best,
    I think this is fantastic.
    I’m bookmarking this and I’ve already emailed the URL to some friends in South Africa.

  8. Matt says:

    This is an incredible opportunity not only for people with HIV but numerous conditions across a broad spectrum. The ability of people to meet with those in similar situation to themselves is remarkable. In some cases, this can give someone who may have felt like an outcast the opportunity to reach out to others. My only concern is if people will become compulsive users and begin living their lives online. I think if it remains a community around interaction and therapeutic elements but encourages offline activities its benefits will span far and wide.

  9. Carolina says:

    Second Life provide a great service.Giving people a forum in which they can share their experiences anonymously and free from any kind of social stigma is invaluable. It’s when we are at our lowest we need encouragement and and uplifting word and it holds more weight coming from someone who has traveled down the same path as yourself.It also provides the opportunity of support groups, where people suffering various health conditions can share their ideas and experiences with others helping both themeselves and others