Ammu Irivinti, created an AIDS information and awareness Web site to provide both comprehensive facts about the disease and a forum for people to share their concerns and opinions. Ammu became interested in AIDS after she cut her forehead at a playground when she was seven and was then told by a classmate that she had been infected with the HIV virus.
When she discovered that this was not true, Ammu’s terror turned to curiosity about the disease, and then, as she learned about its worldwide scope and impact, to deep concern. “I firmly believe that the best method for prevention is education,” she said, “It is vital that people learn from others around the world and impart their own knowledge to others.”
To facilitate that exchange, Ammu decided to build a Web site in her spare time. She taught herself HTML code, learned about graphic design, and then researched AIDS extensively and began uploading pages of information. Since studies have shown that HIV-infected people who are able to share their emotions may improve their immune systems, Ammu designed her site not only to communicate facts, but also to let AIDS sufferers chat with each other, post stories, and participate in polls.
“I realized that lifeless facts are simply a waste of time and effort,” she said. “Unless people see and acknowledge that AIDS is real, they will not be motivated to make any substantial changes.” Ammu also has used her site to organize fund-raising campaigns and charity events, which have collected more than $87,000 to help HIV/AIDS orphans and pregnant women. Maintenance of the site, which is now visited by more than 6,000 users a month, was turned over to a professional Web design firm last summer, though Ammu remains its executive director.