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 August 28, 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 August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Cardiac experts are testing a new experimental device designed to eliminate major surgery and still keep the heart on track. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) More than 269 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Many of them will need surgery and radiation, but there’s a new simple way to reconstruct tissue using a patient’s own fat. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood Clots in Kids

Blood Clots in Kids

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Every year, up to 200,000 Americans die from a blood clot that travels to their lungs. You’ve heard about clots in adults, but new research shows kids can get them too. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Radio Waves Knock out Knee Pain

Radio Waves Knock out Knee Pain

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Doctors have used radio frequency ablation or RFA to reduce neck and back pain for years. But now, that same technique is providing longer-term relief for patients with severe knee pain. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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