During a six-month hiatus in his native Australia after learning he was HIV-positive, Peter Brook quickly learned that educating himself about and meeting others with the disease through the Internet was more difficult than he had expected. So after returning to his home in Los Angeles and joining forces with longtime friend and advertising exec David Purdue, the 38-year-old former TV producer decided to create his own comprehensive website: BeOneCity.com.
There are a lot of HIV-related websites. How is yours different?Purdue: What's out there now feels very tangential, and it can be hard to find what you're looking for. Be One City will be a one-stop-shopping site with everything from medical information and local resources to forums where users can post questions to the ability to chat with and get to know other HIV-positive people.
Why did you make interacting with other HIVers a key component of the site?Brook: My experience as someone living with HIV is that there really aren't other places online where I could talk with, meet, and maybe even date other HIV-positive guys. So the ability to get to know other people through a site that is safe and confidential was one of our first goals.
What's the significance of the name Be One City?Brook: It's sort of an instruction: Be one, be unified. Let's be one global 'city' on the Net where HIV-positive people can feel at home and secure. We hope that by bringing people together we can help break through the fear and stigma still associated with the disease and [have them] not feel as though they're damaged goods or somehow lesser because they're positive.
Be One City is aimed at gay men. Any plans to expand to include heterosexual men and women?Purdue: We will eventually have a mirror site for heterosexual people, but we figured we'd start with a site for gay men, since this is the market we know.
Tips+ToolsAccess and registration on the beta version of BeOneCity.com is free. Its full-scale launch is due this spring.