A day in the life of Alain Miguet

IAS Member and Editor-in-chief of Sida Info Service (SIS)

Sida Info Service (SIS), created in 1990, is an association dedicated to the fight against AIDS and specializing in remote support. In 2009, more than 100,000 people chatted with an SIS listener thanks to our anonymous, confidential and free hotline, 0800,840,800*. During the same year, our website, www.sida-Info-service.org, received over 1.2 million visits and over 9.4 million page views.

Providing information about HIV/AIDS, personal testimonies of people living with HIV and raising awareness of the major issues influencing the epidemic are the main goals that I set for myself as editor-in-chief.

Recently, I interviewed and recorded one of our hotline listeners, and since then we have been posting audio clips of between 2 and 3 minutes in order to make our information content about HIV/AIDS more lively. These short audio interviews are useful as they allow us to transmit basic information to audiences who may have difficulty reading or who do not want to read.

Following the same logic, and in order to make information accessible to all in other ways than through written documents, SIS also makes videos in French sign language - language used by deaf people to allow them access to prevention messages. Adding subtitles to the videos enables people unfamiliar with sign language to access these prevention messages as well.

At the moment, I am working with François. In 2011, SIS began drawing attention to the issue of HIV discrimination at work and, each month, an interview addresses one aspect of this subject. This is an issue which remains extremely sensitive, even here in France!

François is employed in a bank. For our interview, he welcomes me to his home. In front of the microphone, he tells me about the day he told his work’s doctor about his HIV status. The doctor, embarrassed, did not want to add this in writing to François’s medical record. François told him to write it down in his records, but warned the doctor that if his boss found out his status, he would sue him. Several years after this uncomfortable dialogue took place, medical confidentiality has not been breached and François’s employer still does not know his HIV status. Providing examples of people fighting HIV is another way for SIS to fight against discrimination.

On our website, in addition to a discussion forum, a special area is dedicated to people living with HIV. “Sida Info Plus” offers brief news on treatments and provides regularly updated information on medical care, on the patient/doctor relationship, on the desire for children and on the procedures to follow in case of discrimination.

A few months ago, I strengthened the partnership between SIS and Actions Traitements, an association with whom we organize “HIV Quality of Life” monthly meetings. Since then, an audio interview conducted with a HIV positive person introduces the theme of the upcoming meeting as well as the related questions that the topic raises. At the end of the meeting, three questions are asked to allow the speaker to comment on the main points mentioned by participants. Topics as diverse as Cancer and HIV and Social Care and HIV have been touched upon in recent months. Thanks to the internet, people living with HIV who have mobility problems now have access to information.

For all the work I do in collaboration with listeners and the different services of SIS, I try to stay true to a colleague’s saying which is always on my mind in times of doubt or fatigue: "Our mission has a double sense: to help HIV-negative people to stay negative and to help people living with HIV to cope with their illness". On a day to day basis, this task is difficult, but exhilarating.

* From abroad, dial the number + 33 1 55 25 13 53 (cost of calls charged to the caller)