Children Under 15 Years of Age Living with HIV / AIDS Globally

Faatima Seedat

In the field of global health, statistics and numbers are extremely important in order to provide evidence to back up research and correctly convey a message to the appropriate audience. Depending on how the information is presented, it can relay different meanings tailored to specific audiences. Therefore, control over color, layout, and overall presentation techniques is a crucial skill within the global health industry especially when providing information about disease prevalence and risks.

Despite the dramatic decrease in HIV/AIDS populations the disease is still rampant in many areas of the world, and global health workers are still striving to find effective solutions to bring the numbers down. There are a large number of children under the age of 15 years living with HIV, but the numbers between continents differs greatly. While this data is readily available on the UNICEF website, it is presented in a simple table format and it can provide a much different and stronger message if presented in a more creative manner. Examples of different visualizations include a pie graph, wordle, incorporating the AIDS ribbon, and pictures of the continents.

Figure 1- Pie Chart

A simple yet effective way to present the data could be through a pie graph (Figure 1). This helps the reader compare the difference between the continents and it is clear that the Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number of children living with HIV. While this does present a clear picture of the difference between continents, drawbacks of this visualization include the fact that the exact numbers are not included. Since sub-Saharan Africa is responsible for a large portion of the population it is difficult to compare the rest of the continents. However, this image could be effectively used for an article that was possibly focusing on the high number of children amongst the HIV population in sub-Saharan Africa.

Figure 2- World Map

By creating a world map and then placing the exact number for each continent at the appropriate location, it allows the viewer to get the full data set as well as see a representation of all the different continents. This visualization shows that HIV affects all populations, not simply sub-Saharan African. This world map view (Figure 2) is clear, colorful, concise, and effectively relays the data to the audience. Yes, the same data could be presented in a simple table but this is simply a more organized and effective way to layout the information.

Figure 3- HIV/AIDS Ribbons

The HIV/AIDS ribbon image has become synonymous with the fight to combat the disease. Therefore, by presenting the data on colorful ribbon decals in the shape of the HIV/AIDS ribbon already gives the reader an indication about what the data will be about. Also the different colors of the ribbons shows that HIV can affect all kinds of people, from different countries, races, and backgrounds. With uncreative presentations, some audiences may not be enticed to read further on because they are turned off by the lack of creativity but this image can help pull in these audiences. This ribbon image view (Figure 3) is an effective way to display the information and at the same time bringing in a more artistic element to the data.

Figure 4- Wordle

A final way to present the data could be through a wordle image (Figure 4). While this does not provide exact numbers, is does include all the different continents and the larger font sizes correlates to the larger number of HIV cases in that location. The lack of numbers however does take the information and gets straight to the point, which is that there is a presence of HIV amongst children. This image also conveys the message that HIV can affect all different areas of the world. Therefore even though numbers are not provided, this visualization does have worth.

These four different visualizations show that different data sets with the same information can portray different messages depending on factors such as how the information is presented, layout, and color. Therefore artistic concepts, such as multimedia and color, can play a huge role in global health and the presentation of health data.

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