Sub-Saharan Africa is home to over 70% of the total world HIV-positive population. In the southernmost region we find countries with HIV prevalence rates of over 30%, the highest in the world. There is no overriding explanation for why HIV has exploded in some areas and not others. We tend to draw over-simplistic correlations between HIV/AIDS and demographics such as wealth, literacy, or fertility. This map allows you to view HIV prevalence along with other forms of demographic data to illustrate that many of these generalizations do not hold true.

Identifying what causes HIV to spread is a complicated and growing area of research. Specific factors that seem to play a role include patterns of sexual networking, levels of condom use with different partners, incidence of other sexually transmitted diseases, population mobility, and societal make-up. While over 90% of the world's HIV+ population live in poorer developing countries, some of the more wealthy countries, such as Botswana and South Africa, have higher HIV rates. This is in part because wealth facilitates population mobility, therefore increasing the spread of HIV.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) release new HIV figures each year. This data is uploaded into the database as soon as it is made available. Along with the most recent HIV statistics, the database holds HIV prevalence information by country dating back to 1970. The historic estimates are used to display the animation of HIV spreading across the continent over time. This animation will increase in length each year as more data is added.

When looking at HIV statistics, one should remember that a person can be HIV-positive (HIV+) and show no symptoms associated with AIDS. It takes between xx months to xx years without antiretroviral treatment before an HIV+ person shows signs of their immune system breaking down. Therefore, a large portion of a country's HIV+ population can be completely healthy. When HIV surges in an area, there will be a few years delay until people, families, communities, or the healthcare system are effected.

Definitions & Sources:

HIV Prevalence
HIV prevalence is defined here as the percentage of men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 who are HIV positive. UNAIDS and the WHO work with national governments and research institutions to calculate this using a methodology that has thus far proved accurate. Note that the estimates do not claim to be an exact count of infections.
Source: UNAIDS

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per Capita
GDP represents the value of all goods and services produced domestically in a country within a year. The average GDP is obtained by dividing the GDP by the population. This figure provides a measurement of average wealth, but can be misleading because a country's wealth is usually distributed very unevenly. GDP and population figures are obtained by the U.S. Census Bureau, International Database and The World Factbook, 2001.
Source: World Bank Group

Fertility is a measurement of the "childbearing performance" of a population. It is the ratio of live births in an area to the population of that area. The numbers are expressed here as per 1000 population per year.
Source: World Health Organization

Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)
The corruption figures here are based on "The 2002 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index." The index defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain. It measures CPI by examining how corruption is perceived by business people and country analysts. The scale is between 0 and 10, with lower numbers meaning higher perception of corruption. Only 102 of the world's countries are surveyed. This study is integrated into the map to counteract the generalization that all African countries are highly corrupt. Botswana, for example, is ranked between France and Ireland in the CPI study.
Source: InfoPlease

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