Map shows prevalence of HIV/ Aids

Researchers have a new tool to help them track the spread of HIV and Aids.

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Areas with more HIV cases are shaded in darker colors.

The mapping tool is providing the most detailed view yet of where infection rates are highest, thereby showing the areas where testing and treatment is most urgently needed.

“This is the clearest picture that we've ever seen of the geography of HIV in the United States,” said Dr. Patrick Sullivan, associate professor of epidemiology at Emory University.

Called Aids-VU, it is an online interactive map showing the prevalence of the HIV-aids cases in bold color Researchers at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health created the map using data from the Centers for Disease Control and presented it publicly Wednesday.

“The HIV epidemic has no limits and this map gives you an idea of what's happening in this country,” said Shavon Arline, director of health programs for the NAACP.

   
HIV map D.C.>
   
In the District, the rate of HIV infections is highest in the inner-city neighborhoods. The darkest blue stands for more than 3,500 cases per 100,000 people, with the lightest green showing areas with less than 1,100 cases per 100,000 people. (Screenshot from aidsvu.org)

The darker the red, the higher the infection rate in those areas, meaning the number of cases per 100,000 people. Large portions of the East Coast and big cities on the West Coast are hit the hardest.

“To understand the epidemic, we have to understand the entire picture and this map will begin to help us ask questions and make decisions based on new data,” said Gregory Pappas of the D.C. Department of Health.

Users can view information by state, county or -- in some cases -- ZIP code. For the District of Columbia, 2008 data shows the rate of HIV is highest in inner-city neighborhoods, followed by the southeastern part of the District.

“It gives you an opportunity to look at your ZIP code. Is this happening in my backyard? Because I think people are … are not connecting HIV to them. They think it's another group or it's ‘them.’ No. It’s us,” said the NAACP’s Arline.

Particularly where HIV rates are highest, like in the District where 3 percent of residents are infected, the goal is to encourage people to get tested.

“Just like you use Google Maps to find a Starbucks or whatever. There’s a feature that will show you HIV testing locations that will give you really detailed information about hours, what they offer,” said Sullivan.

The map will be updated with new numbers regularly. View it online at http://aidsvu.org/map.

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