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Do you ever just need someone to talk to? Someone who is going through something similar to you, or who has gained wisdom from past experience? Living with a chronic illness, supporting a loved one through a difficult time, and even just managing daily life as a woman in college can overwhelming, and sometimes it's hard to find the right time and the right people to talk about it with. The Internet can be a helpful place to share your experiences and thoughts (and learn from the contributions of others) in the privacy of your own space.

Remember, though, that these forums are often peer moderated, and not under the supervision of a physician. Medical opinion expressed in a peer support network is experiential, and expert opinion should be sought from a qualified medical professional.

Three main categories of social networks are available online:

Chat Forums
Web Bulletin Boards
Mailing (or Distribution) Lists
Chat rooms allow Internet users to join each other in a group and talk about a common interest or topic. Chats happen in "real time," which means that everyone in participating in the chat is on a computer at the same time. In a chat, you can choose to participate or to just read what people are saying.

Chat forums can be found all over the Internet. One available type of chat is found on the World Wide Web. These chat forums can be found by doinga search in your web browser and using your browser to participate in theconversation.

Another way to chat is using a program called IRC (or Internet Relay Chat). This type of chat requires extra software that will let you participate.

Bulletin Boards are forums where people post questions or messages on a web site. Responses to your messages are posted by other users of the site. You can take your time and write a message that is posted to a public board and then check back later to see if someone has responded to your question.

All bulletin boards are web based and the only software you need to use them is your web browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer or whatever you choose).

Basically, if you combine bulletin boards and email, you get a newsgroup. You subscribe to a newsgroup, and then post messages, like you are writing an email.

The difference between a newsgroup and a bulletin board is the fact that that on a newsgroup the message is seen by only people who are subscribed to that newsgroup, and you need to use a news host to be able to subscribe to a newsgroup. Responses to your messages will be show as subcategories under the original posting, and nothing comes to yor personal email box.

On a mailing list, when someone wants to ask a question or post a response, it all happens through email.

One person sends an email to the list address, and the message is bounced out to everyone on that list, so it comes to your mailbox.

Usually, you find the name and address of the mailing list on the WWW and then participate in the list using your regular email program.

Interested in trying some of these out? Check it out... from the variety of links listed below.

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Check out for chats on health topics has great bulletin board communities covering a variety of physical and mental health topics. Under each topic, you can find links to message boards, online chats, usenet groups, mailing lists, national and international organizations, local and regional groups, government agencies, professional organizations, clinical trials, and other information. Some topics listed have less information than others. SupportPath also has a calendar of health-related events each month and publishes original works that others may find inspirational.
Try iVillage for good general bulletin boards for specific health concerns. There are a lot of communities there that focus on healthy living, support, and lifestyles, as well as message boards about specific illnesses and disorders. All of the message boards are supported by iVillage. Membership is not required to read the discussions, but it is required to post. All posts are subject to iVillage,s Terms of Service, and many of the members are adults, so the discussions tend to be on the serious side. has lots of good advice about healthy lifestyles, but no message boards.
Here's a women's health bulletin board that can provide information and support from other people with the same issue, illness or condition, but be careful! While many people using these board may seem very knowledgeable, they so not replace the advice of your doctor. This board can help you find people who have been there and may be very familiar with an issue or illness. But they are not doctors, and CANNOT give medical advice to you.
At volunteers answer questions about specific illnesses or diseases, as well as other topics. Volunteers cannot diagnose illnesses, but they may be able to answer some questions about illnesses or procedures. Most of the volunteers have personal experience with the illness but are not medical experts. There are also message boards for discussion on many, but not all, of the conditions..
The The site offers message boards on health topics.
Yahoo! has some chatrooms, message boards and an Ask a Doctor function. The message boards feature a lot of discussion on sexual health and related issues in the women's health section. The general health section has discussion on more general topics. There are advertisement posts in the message boards, and the discussions often go off-topic. This board does not appear to be as carefully moderated as other boards, but there is still valuable information available.
Search for a USENET Newsgroup that interests you...
This website is an information resource center and does not provide medical advice.
Information from website should not be a substitute
for medical advice from a health care professional.