Lifestyle magazines go for the HIV market

March 08, 1994|By Holly Selby | Holly Selby,Sun Staff Writer

A photo of an attractive woman leaning against a smiling man graces the magazine's cover. Inside are articles on sex, tips on health, essays on coping. The horoscope's on the last page.

Sound like many other slick lifestyle magazines? It is, but with a twist: Out last month, this is Plus Voice, a national lifestyle magazine for people who are HIV-positive or are affected in some way by the virus that causes AIDS.

And beginning March 15, another magazine, called Poz -- aimed at the same audience -- will appear on selected newsstands.

Although newsletters and bulletins have circulated in the AIDS community since the beginning of the epidemic, these two glossy productions are the first national lifestyle magazines to target the estimated 800,000 people in the United States who are living with the human immunodeficiency virus. Two other magazines, the San Francisco-based DPN (Diseased Pariah News) and the literary Art and Understanding also are written for people with HIV but are less general.

Many people who are infected with HIV say they welcome another information outlet. "Someone with HIV who takes care of himself has a life expectancy of 10 to 20 years. These magazines address that lifestyle," says Greg Satorie, secretary for Baltimore's People With AIDS Coalition. "There are all kinds of issues that come with being HIV-positive -- your life doesn't end."

Others express concern that slick magazine presentations of HIV-related topics would gloss over the seriousness of the AIDS epidemic. "I think it's very good to be positive and to present people with information that they can digest easily," says Garey Lambert of AIDS Action Baltimore. "But we're talking about a tough, mean, disease, and people have to address it that way."

Published by non-profit companies, both magazines are supported by subscriptions, donations and advertisements. The majority of the ads are from health-related industries.

Editors at Chicago-based Plus Voice and New York-based Poz say their magazines will meet a need in the AIDS community for accessible information. "The magazine was born out of my own need," says Brett Grodeck, publisher of Plus Voice, who tested positive for HIV six years ago. "I really wanted to get on with living, but there was no publication that spoke to me as a friend."

The first issue of Plus Voice includes a humor column, an interview with an African-American, HIV-positive, gay man and an article on the ethics of HIV-positive women having children. A first run of 50,000 copies was distributed in 31 states; some were available free at Baltimore's Health Education Resource Center and at AIDS Action, but both places have run out.

The coming issue of Poz includes an interview with Bob Hattoy, a member of the Clinton administration who is HIV-positive, information on drug trials and columns on alternative medicine. Premiere issues will be mailed to 70,000 households identified as having an interest in HIV, says publisher Sean Strub, who is HIV positive and runs a direct mailing company. Another 30,000 will be sent to selected newsstands.

Poz costs $19.95 for six issues (one year). Plus Voice subscriptions cost $30 for six issues. Free subscriptions of both magazines are available for people who are HIV-positive and can't afford it.

"The magazine is driven by my own personal situation. I am a long-term survivor and have found knowledge to be more helpful than any single potion, pill or prayer," says Mr. Strub.

For information about Poz: (800) 883-2163. For information about Plus Voice: (312) 357-0200.

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