HIV i-Base

AEGiS – global online treatment information library and news archive

Sr Mary Elizabeth Clark, founder of the AEGiS website.

Sr Mary Elizabeth Clark, founder of the AEGiS website.

For more than two decades, AEGiS was the largest and most comprehensive online HIV library. 

It was also one of the first organisations to prioritise open-access to resources on HIV and AIDS. 

Unfortunately, increasing difficulty with sustaining funding meant that this unique resource went off-line in 2013.

Founded in 1990, AEGiS was initially developed from a global network of HIV bulletin boards. There were an early form of internet discussion group where for the first time people could use the internet to connect instantly with people in different countries.

In addition to sending out daily international news from the general press and medical publications, the site hosted a diverse range of community resources and developed an online archive of abstracts from medical conferences. Many of the documents in the archive were only available because of AEGiS and the resource covered both before and after effective HIV treatment.

i-Base is one of at least four organisations who now hold a copy of the AEGiS database.

Until a permanent home is found for the archive – and we are also working on this – i-Base want to make at least some of the resources available again. Unfortunately the archive is too vast – at around 4 terabytes – to simply add this easily to the i-Base site.

Our plan is to first publish a summary content.

We will then prioritise publishing content that includes early community newsletters and conference abstracts that are not otherwise available. This access to our history is important. i-Base can also make the full database available to individual researchers at the i-Base office, although this will need to be by individual arrangement.

AEGiS was developed by Sister Mary Elizabeth, a community and transgender activist and siser based in the California. For much of the time AEGiS was a volunteer project run from home, sometimes with staff support when funding allowed. This team included Jeff Greer, Vanessa Robison, Lisa Hoskins, April Ele and Betty Canepa.

In addition to winning numerous awards for AEGiS, Sister Mary has the distinction of being the only person known to have served in the US military as both a man (where he was commended for service, but later discharged) and as a women (having re-enlisted in the army reserve after gender reassignment in 1975, and again later discharged). She successfully challenged the discrimination and the way she had been treated based on her gender – achieving an honourable discharge that recognised her years of service – and used the settlement to fund AEGiS.

Sister Mary is one of the early AIDS activists who over decades shaped the community response to HIV. i-Base is proud to be able to play a small part in maintaining awareness of this unique contribution.

AEGiS stands for AIDS Education Global Information System.

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