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The NCHHSTP Atlas: Putting CDC Data to Work for You

Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH

Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH

Editorial Note: “See data differently. See it better!” You may have seen this tweet Exit Disclaimer from Dr. Mermin about the NCHHSTP Atlas. Here is a blog with more information about the tool. 

It is easier to fight what you can see. That’s certainly true in a sport like boxing. It is also, perhaps surprisingly, true in epidemiology. When you can map or graph the body punch of infections and diseases and see the trends over time in different groups and places, you are in a better position to mobilize public health resources to stop it cold.

That is the idea that sparked development of the NCHHSTP Atlas, the one-stop shop for CDC’s most recent data available on HIV, viral hepatitis, STDs, and TB. The Atlas contains over 10 years of the most essential CDC data for these diseases at the national, state, and county levels, and by populations. Users can see disease trends over time and the burden of these diseases in their community. It also gives users the ability to make custom maps, figures, and tables that they can use for planning, reports, presentations, and advocacy. Now three years old, the Atlas is getting better with age. The Atlas has added some useful new features to help users with their data needs. The updated Atlas gives users the power to get the data they need, when and how they need it, and in formats that are attractive and easy to understand.

CDC-Atlas-feature_456x297New Updates
  • New Detailed Data: The Atlas now includes county-level and origin of birth data for TB and 2013 data for HIV, STDs, TB, and viral hepatitis.
  • New Print/Export Functions: Users can now export graphics and data from the ‘comparison window’ – where they can compare county, state, and national data. Like before, users can make and download PowerPoints, PDFs, and other data files for more sophisticated statistical analysis.
  • First Version of Advanced Query: The Atlas now includes the first version of an Advanced Query function. Users can create custom tables from the data and have more flexibility when analyzing disease rates over time and across different areas and populations. With the Advanced Query, users can
    • Compare two or more diseases (e.g., HIV and TB)
    • Examine multiple states or counties (e.g., VA, MD, and DC)
    • View multiple years of data (e.g., 2008-2013)
  • Drill down into subpopulations of interest (e.g., by race, age group, or sex)
Other Resources

The Atlas website also has other useful resources. The site includes a webcast on how to use the Atlas and the Basic Query; ready-made PowerPoint slides covering the most common queries and social determinants of health, such as income or education levels; and a link to recent State Health Profiles, summarizing data for each state and the District of Columbia. Finally, there are also buttons users can add to their website or blog, linking directly to the Atlas, so that others can easily access this tool and put the power of CDC data to work for them.

It Keeps Getting Better!

CDC is committed to expanding and improving the Atlas. Please visit the NCHHSTP Atlas website to find out what’s new and how to use the Atlas to meet your data needs. In the future, CDC will be offering webinars and other trainings to help public health and CBO staff, advocates, researchers, policymakers, and others get the most out of the Atlas. We invite you to give this important and powerful tool a try!

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Here is another blog on how data is important to fighting the HIV epidemic.