Mapping Hepatitis vs HIV

I don’t often write about maps, especially of the choropleth kind. In many cases I choose not to because so many of the maps are one-dimensional: how fast is x growing across the world; which is predominant across the world, y or z? So I was pleasantly surprised by the Economist yesterday when they published this interactive map on the scourges of hepatitis and HIV.

Hepatitis vs HIV
Hepatitis vs HIV

Quickly put, the map is a success. It shows a clear geographic pattern; the developed/Western world along with the Middle East and Asia have a larger problem in hepatitis than HIV whereas Africa and Latin America are dealing moreso with HIV. (Admittedly, the fact that 117 out of 187 countries are dealing more with hepatitis is lost because so many of the countries are small in area.) But, the really nice bit about the map is not just the colour by virus, but the tint by comparative ratio. The darker the colour, the stronger the one virus over the other.

Lastly, from a data perspective, I just wonder if the ratios could not be adjusted for population, or deaths as a percentage of the national population? I would be curious to see if that would yield interesting results.

Credit for the piece goes to C.H., R.L.W., J.S., and D.H.

Choropleth Maps

Keeping with maps, they can be useful, but all too often people fall back upon them because it is a quick and easy way of displaying data for geographic entities. This graphic from the New York Times on ADHD is not terribly complex, but it uses a map effectively.

The article discusses how ADHD rates among states vary, but are still higher in the South. The map supports that argument. Consider how it would be different if every other state were darkened to a different shade of purple. There would be neither rhyme nor reason as to why the map was being used.

A map well done
A map well done

A subtle point worth noting is that only the states falling into the highest bin are labelled. Those are the states that best support the story. The remainder of the states are left unlabelled so as not to distract from the overall piece.

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times.

The Life Expectancy Gap Between Men and Women

Today’s post comes via my coworker Jonathan and his subscription to National Geographic. The spread below looks at the gap in life expectancy between men and women in the United States. Outliers are highlighted by drawing lines to the counties in question while the same colour scale is used on a smaller map to look at historic data. And of course for those concerned about how the US places amongst its piers on the international stage, a small selection of countries are presented beneath in a dot plot that looks at the differences and averages.

The National Geographic spread
The National Geographic spread
A detail of the choropleth map
A detail of the choropleth map
A closer look at the dot plot
A closer look at the dot plot

Credit for the piece goes to Lazaro Gamio.

Influenza

The Washington Post has an interactive infographic piece out about the spread of the flu. The big draw is of course the map—people like maps and they are easy to navigate. However, this time the map actually can serve a useful purpose because a virus spreads through the contact of people and communities. And when illustrated over time, the user can see a general spread from the deep south to the Mid-Atlantic than the west before becoming a national problem.

The geographic distribution of the flu
The geographic distribution of the flu

But a really sharp component that I enjoy is the index of flu cases from the four most recent flu seasons. While half the years displayed have seen a gradual increase in the number of hospitalisations, the 2012–13 season became quite troublesome quite quickly. It has even surpassed the 2009–10 levels that were affected by the H1N1 pandemic.

An indexed look at the rampancy of influenza outbreaks
An indexed look at the rampancy of influenza outbreaks

Lastly, not shown here, is an illustration of just what the flu is—a virus—and how it spreads and where anti-viral drugs work.

Credit for the piece goes to Darla Cameron, Dan Keating and Alberto Cuadra.