1. Why was AIDSVu developed?
AIDSVu was developed with the goal of making HIV data widely available and locally relevant. AIDSVu’s community-level data can help inform decisions about the best use of HIV prevention, testing and treatment resources. These data also underscore the importance of all adults aged 13 to 64 being tested for HIV, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and, if the test is positive, being linked to and retained in care.
2. Who is AIDSVu intended for?
AIDSVu is intended to be used by public health officials, health care providers, researchers, policymakers, advocates and the general public. The detailed, yet easily accessible, information on AIDSVu can help communities plan where HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services are needed most; provide important visuals and data for grants, policy reports, and advocacy efforts; and give health care providers and the general public a tool for better understanding how HIV impacts their communities.
3. Who created AIDSVu?
AIDSVu was developed by Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc. It is led by Dr. Patrick Sullivan, Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University.
4. Who helps to advise the AIDSVu project?
AIDSVu receives ongoing guidance from three groups consisting of key stakeholders and experts: the AIDSVu Advisory Committee, the AIDSVu Technical Advisory Group, and the AIDSVu Prevention and Treatment Advisory Committee. The individuals who participate in these groups are representatives of organizations such as the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, as well as national advocates, representatives from state and local health departments, and private industry.
5. Who provided the data for AIDSVu?
State- and county-level AIDSVu data are obtained from CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP). Data are released to AIDSVu in accordance with each state’s HIV/AIDS data re-release agreement, and are compiled by researchers at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. City-level data are obtained directly from state and city health departments. All data received by Emory are anonymous, meaning that no names or other personally identifying information are provided. Strict rules are applied to the mapping process to protect the privacy of those living with HIV.
6. What does AIDSVu’s interactive map show?
AIDSVu visualizes HIV prevalence data – the rates and numbers of persons living with an HIV diagnosis – across the United States in 2013, as well as new HIV diagnosis data – the rates and cases of new HIV diagnoses – across the United States from 2008 to 2014. Prevalence data are available at the state and county levels, and at the ZIP code level for 40 U.S. cities. New HIV diagnosis data are available at state and county levels, and at the ZIP code level for and 37 U.S. cities. Additionally, prevalence and new HIV diagnoses data are available at finer geographic levels, including neighborhood level for San Francisco, community and census tract levels for Chicago, census tract level for Philadelphia, and ward and census tract levels for Washington, D.C.
AIDSVu data can be visualized by race/ethnicity, sex, age, and transmission category, and displays HIV prevalence data alongside various social determinants of health – such as poverty, high school education, median household income, income inequality, and people without health insurance. AIDSVu allows users to locate a place for HIV testing or care, and also includes NIH-funded HIV prevention, vaccine, and treatment trial locations.
New in 2016, AIDSVu now visualizes mortality data at the state level, showing rates and numbers of deaths that occurred in 2013 among people with diagnosed HIV. AIDSVu also has local statistics pages with profiles for 36 U.S. cities and 49 states, offering easy-to-understand and printable snapshots that summarize the impact of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
7. What does AIDSVu demonstrate about HIV/AIDS in America?
AIDSVu provides a visualization of the HIV epidemic across the United States. The interactive maps illustrate geographic variations in the HIV epidemic and demonstrate how the epidemic affects communities differently. This information is important for individuals to understand HIV in their communities, and for health officials and policymakers to see where prevention and care programs are needed most.
The AIDSVu maps illustrate how HIV still disproportionately impacts some regions and groups – particularly in the South and among youth and African Americans – underscoring the need for continued work:
- Southern States Experiencing Greatest Burden of Infection and Deaths: The Southern U.S. is home to nearly 37 percent of the country’s population, but these states account for half of all new HIV diagnoses (50 percent) and deaths among persons diagnosed with HIV (47 percent). In 2014, eight of the ten states with the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses (Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina) and the top five cities with the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses were in the South (Miami, FL; Baton Rouge, LA; Fort Lauderdale, FL; New Orleans, LA; and Jackson, MS).
- HIV Diagnoses Among Youth Rising: In 2014, young persons between ages 13 and 24 accounted for almost one quarter (22 percent) of all new HIV diagnoses. While the number of new HIV diagnoses among all persons in the U.S. decreased by 11 percent between 2008 and 2014, new HIV diagnoses among youth increased by nearly 11 percent. In that same time period, new HIV diagnoses among young men who have sex with men, aged 13 to 24, increased by nearly 30 percent (27 percent), and in 2014, accounted for 18 percent of all new HIV diagnoses.
- African Americans Are Most Impacted: While making up just 12 percent of the U.S. population, black or African American persons accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in 2014. The impact is particularly apparent in the South where black or African American persons make up more than half (54 percent) of this region’s new HIV diagnoses in 2014. In 2013, nearly half (46 percent) of all deaths that occurred among people diagnosed with HIV were black or African American persons, compared to white persons (30 percent), and Hispanic/Latino persons (19 percent).
- Late HIV Diagnoses Show Continued Need for Testing: Of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV, one in eight do not know they are infected. In 2013, nearly one quarter of all persons newly diagnosed with HIV were considered late diagnoses, meaning individuals were diagnosed after the disease had already progressed to AIDS. These statistics emphasize the need for increased testing and highlight the importance of aligning resources to the areas that need it most.
8. What resources are available on AIDSVu to support my work?
AIDSVu has a new print functionality, allowing users to print custom map views for usage in grant proposals, presentations, manuscripts, and other materials. The local statistics pages also include a print functionality, allowing users to print data points and graphics for their city or state using a custom export function at the top right-hand side of the page.
AIDSVu also launched a new resource, AIDSVu In Use, a dedicated landing page for users to see how to turn AIDSVu data into action and learn how other organizations have used AIDSVu’s maps and data, and offers downloadable maps and data sets on its Resources page.
9. Why are the data not from this year?
Each year, AIDSVu publishes the latest HIV data available from the CDC and health departments. The state-, county-, and city-level new diagnosis data have about a one-year compilation period to allow for reporting time, data corrections, resolution of duplicate diagnoses across states, analyses, and report preparation. New diagnoses data offer a look at recent changes in the epidemic.
The state- and county-level prevalence data have about an 18-month compilation period for the same reasons, as well as the integration of the data on deaths of people with an HIV diagnosis (mortality). AIDSVu’s city-level prevalence data is compiled in accordance with the state- and county-level prevalence timelines. Prevalence data help us to understand where the epidemic stands today, and the impact of HIV on the U.S.
10. Why does the map differ between the rate and number of cases?
The scales in the legends for prevalence and new diagnosis rates differ from the number of cases for states, counties, ZIP codes and census tracts because the rate (usually expressed as the number of cases per 100,000 people in the population) is an expression of the relative concentration of people in an area (state, county, ZIP code, or census tract) living with an HIV diagnosis. This differs from the number of cases, which is the actual number of people living with an HIV diagnosis. The rate can be useful for comparing the severity of the HIV epidemic in areas with different population sizes – for example, in a densely populated area and in a more sparsely populated one. The number of cases can identify areas where the greatest or fewest number of individuals living with an HIV diagnosis reside.
For example, in a county with fewer people but with a relatively large number of people living with an HIV diagnosis, the county may be shaded a dark red when viewing the prevalence rate. However, the same county may not appear dark red when viewing the map by the total number of cases because the county has a smaller number of cases compared with other counties.
11. Why aren’t some data shown?
To protect the privacy of those living with diagnosed HIV, AIDSVu does not display data where the number of people living with diagnosed HIV is less than five and/or the number of people in the area is less than 100 for states/counties, less than 1,000 for ZIP codes, and less than 500 for census tracts.
Areas appear white when one or both of these conditions are met. The light shade of gray indicates an area where data are not shown because the data are either not available for the area or were not released to AIDSVu.
12. How does AIDSVu differ from maps provided by the CDC?
Both AIDSVu and the CDC’s maps are built using the same data from CDC surveillance programs. However, AIDSVu also displays ZIP code-level data on HIV prevalence and county-level data on HIV diagnoses, which the CDC does not currently publish. CDC maps also offer some content that AIDSVu does not, including data on other infections, such as acute viral hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections.
13. How does AIDSVu differ from other maps produced from some states?
All state- and county-level HIV surveillance data for AIDSVu were obtained from CDC’s national HIV surveillance database housed in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention’s HIV Incidence and Case Surveillance Branch. Data released from the CDC may differ from data released by individual states because the data were analyzed differently, or because they are from different time periods. For example, AIDSVu data are analyzed by “residence at earliest HIV infection diagnosis,” and some states analyze data by “current address.” These differences can produce slightly different numbers that are released at the national vs. state or local levels.
14. How do the numbers on AIDSVu compare to national statistics?
The CDC estimates that more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV. These national statistics count both people who have been diagnosed with HIV (i.e., who have had a positive test for HIV) and an estimate of other people who are living with HIV but who have not been tested and diagnosed. The CDC estimates that one in eight people in the United States who are living with HIV don’t know it. The state- and county-level data on AIDSVu only include people who have been diagnosed with HIV.
Nationally, CDC estimates that nearly one quarter of all HIV infections are diagnosed late, meaning individuals were diagnosed after the disease had already progressed to AIDS. People with late HIV diagnoses miss opportunities to start treatment earlier, which can lead to better health outcomes.
Each individual city and state profile on AIDSVu provides additional information such as racial disparity in HIV diagnoses, new and late HIV diagnoses, mode of HIV transmission, federal grant funding for HIV/AIDS, state progress toward prevention goals, and other sexually transmitted disease rates.
15. How did AIDSVu select the cities displaying ZIP code, census tract, and neighborhood data?
AIDSVu invited cities with the highest rates of HIV diagnoses, according to CDC’s recent HIV surveillance report, to provide data. AIDSVu’s resources and capacity determine the number of new cities invited each year. Unfortunately, at this time, AIDSVu is unable to map all U.S. cities because of the possibility of low case counts or small population sizes. Visit our Data Methods page to learn more about AIDSVu’s suppression rules.
16. Can you provide a ranked list of counties with the highest HIV rates in the U. S.?
Because the data for several counties are suppressed or not available, AIDSVu is unable to provide a ranking of U.S. counties. To determine which counties have the highest rates or case counts, sort the county-level data set from highest to lowest.
17. What can people living in darkly and lightly red shaded counties learn from AIDSVu and what actions can they take to prevent the spread of HIV?
Although the first HIV cases were found in large urban areas, AIDSVu shows that nearly every area of the country is affected, underscoring the importance of testing all adults ages 13 to 64 for HIV.
People in darkly shaded areas need to be reminded that HIV is not transmitted by casual contact. By knowing their HIV status as part of their overall health and well-being and taking steps to reduce their risks, like condom use, individuals can protect themselves – even in heavily impacted parts of the country.
People who live in lightly shaded areas should be reminded that HIV does not have geographic boundaries – living in an area less impacted doesn’t mean you are protected from HIV. It is still important to get tested for HIV and to take steps to protect yourself. If users don’t know where to get tested for HIV, the AIDSVu site can help link users to that information.
18. How does AIDSVu account for prison and jail data and what do the correctional disclaimers on the map mean?
Some counties have state or federal correctional facilities where inmates may have been diagnosed with HIV. Because the data displayed on AIDSVu count these inmates, and because the “persons living with diagnosed HIV” and “persons newly diagnosed with HIV” data on AIDSVu are analyzed by “residence at HIV diagnosis,” inmates diagnosed at correctional facilities are counted as cases in the county where the facility is located. This may inflate the rate and case count of persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the county and may not represent HIV infection in the county’s community as a whole. In cases where this inflation may occur, a note is included in the pop-up window for the relevant geographic area. See the Data Methods page on AIDSVu.org for additional information about how the inclusion of these correctional notes was determined.
Some AIDSVu cities have excluded case counts where the HIV diagnosis may have occurred in a correctional facility. Additionally, correctional disclaimers on AIDSVu’s city maps are on a case-by-case basis. To see which cities display correctional disclaimers, see the Data Methods page.
19. Is AIDSVu based on where people lived at the time of HIV diagnosis or where they live now?
AIDSVu’s data are based on reported residence at earliest HIV diagnosis.
20. Do you intend to update AIDSVu? Are you planning to add new features to AIDSVu?
AIDSVu is updated on an ongoing basis with new data and additional information as it becomes available. For details about how often different figures will be updated, see the Data Methods page on AIDSVu.org. You can also sign up on the AIDSVu website to receive email notifications when new features or data are added to the site.
21. Where does AIDSVu get the statistics and trends released on infographics and awareness day pages?
Unless otherwise noted on the document, AIDSVu receives all statistics and trend points from CDC. This information is carefully reviewed and confirmed by the AIDSVu team prior to their release, and in the event of any discrepancies, AIDSVu contacts CDC to confirm the data source and methodology.
22. What is Powered By AIDSVu?
Powered By AIDSVu projects incorporate collaborative content and programs from additional data sources and partners into the existing AIDSVu infrastructure, expanding visualization of complex information to inform public health goals. The inaugural Powered By AIDSVu project, HIVContinuum.org, was released in February 2015, and maps engagement across the five stages of the HIV treatment cascade in five heavily-impacted cities: Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
23. What does HIVContinuum show?
HIVContinuum.org displays data and maps illustrating the HIV care continuum in five large cities in the U.S. – Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. The site includes data for persons newly diagnosed between 2007 and 2011 and depicts: New HIV Diagnosis, Late HIV Diagnosis, Linked to HIV Care, Engaged in HIV Care, and Suppressed HIV Virus.