Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Twitter 'big data' can be used to monitor HIV, drug-related behavior

Date:
February 28, 2014
Source:
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences
Summary:
Real-time social media like Twitter could be used to track HIV incidence and drug-related behaviors with the aim of detecting and potentially preventing outbreaks. The study suggests it may be possible to predict sexual risk and drug use behaviors by monitoring tweets, mapping where those messages come from and linking them with data on the geographical distribution of HIV cases. The use of various drugs had been associated in previous studies with HIV sexual risk behaviors and transmission of infectious disease.

Real-time social media like Twitter could be used to track HIV incidence and drug-related behaviors with the aim of detecting and potentially preventing outbreaks, a new UCLA-led study shows.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Preventive Medicine, suggests it may be possible to predict sexual risk and drug use behaviors by monitoring tweets, mapping where those messages come from and linking them with data on the geographical distribution of HIV cases. The use of various drugs had been associated in previous studies with HIV sexual risk behaviors and transmission of infectious disease.

"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 of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-director of the Center for Digital Behavior at UCLA.

Founded by Young, the new interdisciplinary center brings together academic researchers and private sector companies to study how social media and mobile technologies can be used to predict and change behavior.

Other studies have examined how Twitter can be used to predict outbreaks of infections like influenza, said Young, who is also a member of the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine; UCLA's Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services; and the UCLA AIDS Institute. "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, researchers collected more than 550 million tweets between May 26 and Dec. 9, 2012, and created an algorithm to find words and phrases in them suggesting drug use or potentially risky behaviors, such as "sex" or "get high." They then plotted those tweets on a map to discover where they originated, running statistical models to see if these were areas where HIV cases had been reported.

The algorithm captured 8,538 tweets indicating sexually risky behavior and 1,342 suggesting stimulant drug use. The geographical data on HIV cases to which researchers linked the tweets came from AIDSVu.org, an interactive online map that illustrates the prevalence of HIV in the U.S.; this mapping data was from 2009.

The states with the largest proportion of geo-located tweets, both general as well as HIV-related, were California (9.4 percent), Texas (9.0 percent), New York (5.7 percent) and Florida (5.4 percent). On a per capita basis, the largest raw number of HIV risk-related tweets came from the District of Columbia, Delaware, Louisiana and South Carolina. States with the highest per capita rate of tweets were Utah, North Dakota and Nevada.

When the researchers linked the tweets to data on HIV cases, they found a significant relationship between those indicating risky behavior and counties where the highest numbers of HIV cases were reported. 

Based on this study, the researchers conclude that it is possible to collect "big data" on real-time social media like Twitter about sexual and drug use behaviors, create a map of where the tweets are occur and use this information to understand and possibly predict where HIV cases and drug use occur.

The study's main weakness, the researchers say, is that the HIV data comes from 2009, so in order to test if this approach can be used to predict future behaviors and outbreaks there is a need for a "gold standard" of frequently updated data. In this way, tweets can be accessed instantly to compare them with disease outbreaks. 

The study does however demonstrate the feasibility of using real-time social networking to identify and map HIV risk-related communications and link them to national HIV data, the researchers write.

"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," they conclude.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences. The original article was written by Enrique Rivero. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sean D. Young, Caitlin Rivers, Bryan Lewis. Methods of using real-time social media technologies for detection and remote monitoring of HIV outcomes. Preventive Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.01.024

Cite This Page:

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences. "Twitter 'big data' can be used to monitor HIV, drug-related behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140228093114.htm>.
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences. (2014, February 28). Twitter 'big data' can be used to monitor HIV, drug-related behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140228093114.htm
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences. "Twitter 'big data' can be used to monitor HIV, drug-related behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140228093114.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins