The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is already considered one of the most reliable sources of health information -- AAFA is a member of National Health Council and has a 3-star quality rating from Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog. Now another consumer group reports that AAFA also has one of the most trusted Web sites on the Internet.
The nonprofit Health on the Net Foundation (HON) awarded AAFA's Web site, www.aafa.org, their prestigious seal of accreditation based on international standards for truth and quality for online content. HON reviews sites for authority, sourcing, independence of authorship, independence of sponsorship and more. After a review to award the AAFA seal, HON cited that, in addition to meeting the standards for certification, AAFA also "provides free information, educational programs, health advocacy, research, support groups and more."
The Consumer Health Products Association (CHPA) reports that 3 out of 4 Americans prefer to self-diagnosis and self-treat rather than see a doctor. In 2004, AAFA's Web site received over 12 million hits, 50 percent more than in 2003, illustrating the need for quality information online. Tom Ferguson, senior researcher at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, says there are more than 100,000 health sites on the Web, up from 10,000 in 1997.
So far, only 3,000 health sites, including AAFA's, have the HON seal. "Accreditation by the Health on the Net Foundation is the gold standard," said Mike Tringale, spokesperson for AAFA. "Rather than simply relying on random consumer reports, HON examines sites to ensure that people get the best information," Tringale said.
Over 50 million Americans have allergies and 20 million have asthma. The prevalence for these diseases has nearly doubled in the last decade and online information is the first choice for an increasing number of consumers. Union Hospital physician, Lynn Fienberg, knows first hand how much patients rely on the Internet. "I can't think of anyone who doesn't get information on the Web," says Fienberg. "As soon as I make the diagnosis my patients look online."
"AAFA is one of the only U.S. asthma and allergy organizations to display the HON seal, but we challenge everyone to meet HON standards," says Tringale. "If everyone complied, consumer reports about medical web sites and the reputation of health sites overall would improve. That would have a positive effect on public health."
The Health on the Net Foundation (HON) (www.hon.ch) is a leading international nonprofit organization whose mission is to set online health information standards and to encourage compliance by health sites around to world.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) (www.aafa.org) is the leading asthma and allergy patient advocacy group in the U.S. whose mission it to help improve the lives of people with asthma and allergies through education, advocacy and research to find cures.