Twitter predicts HIV

Twitter predicts HIV

First there was Google Flu Trends, now researchers are adding other social media to the Big Data and disease outbreak prediction arsenal.  Latest is the addition of Twitter to HIV geographical incidence prediction.  In short, researchers have found that Twitter isn’t really simply a location to share specifics concerning our lives and retweet Oscar selfies; research has actually suggested the social media sites website might likewise play an useful part in tracking illness, such as the flu. And now, a new research reveals it could be a tool in HIV prevention and detection.

Researchers from the UCLA tracked sex and HIV risk-related tweets and afterwards connected those tweets with topographical information on HIV around the U.S. They located an association between the regions with the most HIV situations and tweets indicating high-risk behavior.

For the study, published in the Preventive Medicine (which has an admittedly low profile journal with an impact factor of 4-5)  researchers tried to find keywords and words indicating dangerous habits (such as “sex” or “get higher”) from among 550 million tweets created in between May 26 and Dec. 9, 2012. Eventually, they compiled 8,538 tweets connected to sexually unsafe behaviors and 1,342 tweets associated with stimulant drug use.

Then, they connected the collected tweets with 2009 data on HIV frequency in the U.S., locating an association in between the risk-related tweets and HIV– which shows that it’s possible to take a look at information from spots like Twitter to acquire an anticipating understanding of HIV instances and dangerous habits.

Nevertheless, analysts noted that a huge weak point in their study is that they reviewed 2012 data with aged 2009 data; for the future, they claimed, they would need to review the tweets with even more existing and often upgraded HIV information.

(Photo Credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid / Creative Commons)