INFOGRAPHICS showing a serge for HIV Visualization & Data

How do you make data look good – and mean something too?

Information graphics, or infographics as they’re commonly referred to, attempt to do just that: visualize data in an engaging way. Infographics turn numbers into pictures, or take select data and represent them in a way that is easy to understand and visually appealing.

We’ve recently seen a surge in these two elements, visualization (presenting data visually) and data. As computer, mobile, and tablet screens grow larger and sharper, the demand for good design and visualization has grown. We are also in the age of big data , where mountains of data sets are more accessible and present opportunities to be creatively analyzed and interpreted.

With visualization and big data on the rise, infographics have (perhaps not coincidentally) gained popularity in print and online. For example, Pinterest, the social bulletin board based around sharing images, is one of the fastest growing sites ever (and a good source to find infographics).

Infographics, and infographics about health, actually aren’t anything new. Some of the earliest infographics in health stem from Florence Nightingale’s polar area diagram (a model that she invented) of mortality in the Crimean war, and from Dr. John Snow’s map of a cholera outbreak in 1850s London. Today, infographics take many forms, beyond a basic bar graph or pie chart. Flowcharts, timelines, diagrams, and maps are examples of some of the many elements that can be combined to create an infographic. is a good starting point to find health data for infographics.

How is using infographics?

With the relaunch of the website, we’ve emphasized the use of visuals and illustrations to communicate information. We wanted to make it easier for our audiences to find information at a glance, especially in the HIV Basics section of the website.

We incorporated more visual elements on pages such as U.S. Statistics and Global Statistics on HIV/AIDS.

A free tool our team uses frequently, Wordle , creates infographics instantly. Its data is based on the frequency of words in a large group of text, and it visualizes the words into a cluster by changing the size and orientation to communicate the importance of the words. Here is a Wordle of this blog post:

How is the HIV community using infographics?
Among the media outlets, companies, bloggers, and nonprofit community leveraging infographics to convey information, the HIV community is rich with data, and some are beginning to use infographics for data on HIV. See these examples below:

JAMA, HIV/AIDS: The State of the Epidemic After 3 Decades

Brown University, model to predict the spread of HIV in New York City over a decade

The federal government is also beginning to use more infographics (like this one from the National Institute on Drug Abuse).

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