A GUIDE TO
USING AND INTERPRETING HIV/AIDS DATA
is the viral infection that leads to the syndrome we call
reflects disease progression in persons infected with HIV.
HIV data come from testing:
testing is strictly voluntary.
test results are reported only for “confidential” – not
“anonymous” – testing.
States began reporting on HIV in different years, and 16 states
still do not report.
AIDS is reported when a person is diagnosed:
AIDS case reporting is mandatory throughout the U.S.
Reporting is based on medical diagnosis, so it doesn’t depend on
people choosing to get tested.
Reports infection even when a person is in good health. HIV
infection surveillance tells us more what’s happening as a result of current behaviors.
Test results cannot be generalized – data from confidential test
reporting cannot be assumed to represent those who have not been
tested or those who test anonymously. Can’t compare nationwide,
because not all states are reporting.
health strategies put more effort into increasing testing
among demographic groups with higher infection rates.
More reliably represents the occurrence of AIDS among the
demographic group being reported. Can compare with other parts
of the U.S.
A person must receive medical care before a diagnosis can be
made and the case reported. Reflects old behaviors since
infection took place an average of 10 years before AIDS
diagnosis. Because improvements in medical therapies slow the
progression from HIV to AIDS, the rate of new AIDS cases can
decrease while the rates of new HIV infections may stay the same
When reviewing or using HIV/AIDS data, be aware of these issues:
· Is this AIDS or HIV?
· Is this giving the
· Does this concern new cases (“incidence”)
during a specified time period (usually a year) or
ongoing cases (“prevalence,” the number of
people living with HIV or AIDS)?
· What time-period is involved? Is it a single year,
a trend over years, or is it cumulative?
· What is the geographic area being reported?
are being reported? The data may include everyone, but HIV/AIDS
data may be given that are specific to sub-populations by:
What is the information source?
internet sources of surveillance data:
from County Health Dept.
from Dept. of Health
from the CDC