Twitter to Monitor HIV and Drug-Related Behavior: Study Shows
By Parismita Goswami | March 3, 2014 5:52 PM EST
According to a new study conducted by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), microblogging site Twitter, could be used for tracking HIV and drug related behaviors in order to detect and potentially prevent outbreaks.
Twitter To Monitor HIV and Drug-Related Behavior
The study suggests that monitoring tweets and mapping messages may allow predicting drug use behavior and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
"Ultimately, these methods suggest that we can use 'big data' from social media for remote monitoring and surveillance of HIV risk behaviors and potential outbreaks," said Sean Young, assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-director of the Center for Digital Behavior at UCLA.
The new interdisciplinary center, founded by Young, brings together private sector companies and academic researchers to analyze how mobile technologies and social media can be utilized to predict and change drug behavior.
Earlier, Twitter has been used to predict outbreaks of infections such as influenza. "But this is the first to suggest that Twitter can be used to predict people's health-related behaviors and as a method for monitoring HIV risk behaviors and drug use," he said.
For the study, over 550 million tweets were collected between 26 May and 9 Dec 2012. The researchers created an algorithm to search for words and phrases that suggested drug use or any such risky behavior. The tweets were then plotted on a map to find where they originated from and if these areas have been reported of any HIV cases.
The algorithm figured 8,538 tweets of sexually risky behavior and 1,342 suggested stimulant drug use.
The main weakness of the study is that since HIV data is from 2009 records, so in turn to verify if the approach is useful for future behavior and outbreaks, "gold standard" will be needed for frequent updated data. Tweets can then be accessed instantly in search for disease outbreaks.
"This study was designed to call for future research to understand the potential cost-effectiveness of this approach and to refine methods of using real-time social networking data for HIV and public health prevention and detection", researchers added.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Forever Lost: Indescribable Anguish for Malaysia Airlines MH17 Families, Remains of Some Victims May Never Be Found (PHOTOS)
- Global Aviation Accidents: UN to Form Safety Task Force, Gov'ts Should Share Intelligence Info to Avert Future Incidents on Flying Over Warzones (PHOTOS)
- PageSix: Beyonce & Jay Z Union is Not About Love, All About Business & the Brand
Join the Conversation
- NASA Astronomers Unearths Mysterious Signal That 'Could Not Be Explained By Known Physics' [Watch Video]
- Richard Norris' Successful Face Transplant Lands Him in GQ Cover [WATCH VIDEOS]
- Industrial Air Pollution May Help Search for Alien Life - Scientists
- Luxury Cruise: A 'Once In A Lifetime' Trip To Experience Environment Devastation in the Arctic
- Breaking Discovery: Industrial Pollution Reached South Pole by 19th Century
- Samsung Galaxy S5 Alpha Leaks Online: Release Date, Five Features to Wait for New Smart Phone
- Freshly Leaked Apple iPad Air 2 Cases Confirm Touch ID Sensor; Release Date, Limited Specs and Price Listed
- Moto X Android 4.4.4 KitKat Update Guide: Schedule and How to Install
- Photos of Motorola Moto X+1 Prototype and Specs Leak Online, Release Date, Four Fresh Features Revealed
- Sony Xperia Z3: Release Date, Five Features to Expect from New Android Smart Phone
- Top 4 Reasons Why iPhone 6 Will Hit Big Soon After its Sept 2014 Release Date
- Top Surprising Features Of iOS 8