Zip code by zip code across Houston and Harris County, a new interactive map helps visualize the HIV epidemic and shows that Montrose and Downtown have some of the highest numbers of HIV-positive people across the region.
AIDSVu also includes breakdowns based on age, race and sex, and offers HIV testing sites. Some 61 percent of HIV cases in Harris County are men who have sex with men.
The following zip codes fall into the highest category, meaning there were more than 1,951 HIV-positive people per 100,000, according to the data from 2011: Montrose (77006, 77098), downtown Houston (77002), northeast Houston near I-610 and U.S. 59 (77026), and South Central Houston (77004).
Houston is among 33 cities across the U.S. in which HIV can be drilled down to the zip code level thanks to the research geeks at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta. They are the same folks that want to know if you booze and bottom and spend millions researching an AIDS vaccine.
The maps, which cull data from local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, can help raise awareness and target prevention efforts, according to Patrick Sullivan, AIDSVu's principal researcher.
AIDSVu is also a great way for health care providers and the general public to better understand how HIV impacts their communities. AIDSVu shows that nearly every area in the U.S. is affected, which underscores the importance of HIV testing. If you live in a darkly shaded area, there’s no need to be anxious – remember that HIV is not transmitted through casual contact. However, by knowing their HIV status as part of their overall health and well-being, everyone can protect themselves – even in heavily impacted parts of the country. Similarly, people who live in lightly shaded areas need to know that HIV has no geographic boundaries, so living in an area with a lower prevalence rate does not mean you are protected from HIV. If users don’t know where to get tested for HIV, the AIDSVu site offers testing and care services locators for people interested in taking action.
AIDSVu will soon release a new mapping tool that tracks HIV rates by neighborhood.