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The oversimplification of human experience is an unfortunate trend in data visualization. This series is different because it provides a granular, visual analysis of individuals. I saw an opportunity to depict the circumstances of each woman in this study: experience with sexual assault, decisions made about high-risk behavior, and their propensity to monitor their HIV status.


What we find is a pronounced present-bias among these women, meaning the financial benefits gained through lucrative, high-risk sex work far outweigh the long-term implications of a positive HIV status. This is difficult for many in high-income countries to understand until we consider that, if forced to chose, feeding one’s children takes precedence to living beyond the maximum life expectancy.

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Client volume is an important consideration sex workers make as they evaluate their financial needs and the risk they assume to meet those needs. These women also grapple with the decision to provide unprotected sex, which although risky, yields significantly higher compensation. Experiences outside professional sex work also impact risk, such as on-going and previously experienced sexual assault.

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Due to the nature of their work, sex workers benefit from special attention to medical screening for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. This group would also greatly benefit from HIV-preventing drugs like PrEP and/or PEP. Explore this visualization to learn about these women, their access to health resources, and their likelihood to use them.

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*This piece looks at the highest risk workers indicated yellow in the “Risk Factors” piece.

hiv prevalence


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Providing testing kits to high-risk communities removes barriers that keep people from learning their HIV status. As with self-testing, sentiments about a positive HIV status are varied among sex workers. Explore this visualization to see how blood-test HIV results to compare to sex worker’s best guess. Further, gain insight into whether HIV status knowledge impacts a sex worker’s decision to have unprotected sex.

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*This piece looks at the highest risk workers indicated yellow in the “Risk Factors” piece.

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