The numbers needed to describe deaths, infections, and orphans brought by AIDS in Africa are too large for us to understand. We can simplify these numbers into abstract models; we can show them in relation to one another; we can chart them, graph them, subdivide them into smaller more tangible numbers. However, we have to accept at the end that we are not capable of grasping the scale in which people of Africa are suffering and dying due to HIV/AIDS.

Diagrams also fail to connect statistics with the real people they are meant to represent. When looking at a chart, it is easy to forget that each number represents a real life, with real family members and friends. A death is not a single unit, but an end of a painful progression of sickness that leaves behind widows, orphans, and demoralized communities.

Despite their weaknesses, diagrams serve an important tool for explaining the complicted dynamics of this monsterous epidemic. Most of the "People Charts" above are generated dynamically based on information stored in an online database. This makes it much easier to update the statistics and keep the site up to date, an especially important feature since the epidemic is in constant motion.

Sources
Most of the statistics presented here, including HIV prevalence, cause of death, and HIV/AIDS models have been obtained through UNAIDS website and World Health Organization's public online library. Information on drug prices is partly drawn from a report by Doctors without Borders.

 
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