The Australian government Department of Health (federal) produces reports each year containing data on notifiable diseases which are of great use to those studying changes in disease distributions with space or time with the aim of planning country-wide control initiatives. To facilitate similar regional operations, states and territories produce annual Public Health Bulletins, zooming-in on the data at a higher level of resolution.
Part 1: Access a table for NSW showing disease incidence for the years 2003 to 2012, and produce labelled, computer-generated time trend graphs for giardiasis and HIV infections using an application such as Excel®.
Part 2: Briefly discuss two possible reasons why each of these diseases might have increased or decreased over this period. Reference this discussion.
Aims of the exercise:
i. To acquire skills in the extraction, presentation, analysis and use of quantitative information from a large-area epidemiological report.
ii. To develop early perspectives on risk factors for specific diseases, and insight as to how and why these might change with time.
i. Public Health Bulletins usually include data up to the year before they were published (eg: a 2012 bulletin usually contains data up to 2011).
ii. Departments are sometimes a few years behind with their bulletins, so a bulletin for the year 2013 might not be available until 2015.
iii. For comparison of disease incidence by places or by year, rates (not absolute numbers) are always used in epidemiology. Disease notification rates are usually given per 100,000 population.