A few years ago ASHA launched a set of interactive message boards focused on sexually transmitted infections on its website, including a forum dedicated specifically to HSV discussions. This project was spurred by the popularity of ASHA’s herpes chat room, the organization’s initial foray into an interactive, web-based contact center. While popular, the live herpes chat format was labor intensive, open only one to two hours on selected weekdays, and ultimately unable to serve sufficient clients to make the program worthwhile.
The message boards, by contrast, still offer website visitors direct interaction with ASHA staff, but are archived into a searchable database that’s available 24/7. Currently the HSV board has more than 10,000 posts across nearly 2,000 topics. Users ask questions about testing, symptoms, pregnancy, and treatment options, but the most prominent theme is reflected in the numerous posts asking for insight into personal issues such as relationships and self-esteem. One such post (that has been viewed over 30,000 times!) is a thread where several board users recount their experiences of discussing herpes with partners.
The team of ASHA moderators oversees the boards and provides information and referrals, but the real value comes in the sense of community that develops as users from across the miles come together to swap stories and offer encouragement. If you’d like to connect with ASHA online and join the discussion (or just want to lurk to see what others are saying), visit the message board on the ASHA website.