Researchers Find That Twitter Can Locate HIV Outbreaks

Excerpt from this article:

Researchers have found that Twitter is a surprisingly useful tool for locating HIV outbreaks. “This study provides the first set of evidence for how real-time social media data might be used for extracting, detecting, and remote monitoring of health-related attitudes and behaviors,” writes the UCLA team. “Results suggest the feasibility of using data from real-time social networking technologies to identify HIV risk-related communications, geographically map the location of those conversations.”

The team mapped over 9,800 tweets with sexual and drug-related themes and found that their locations were a good predictor for established statistics on HIV-prevalence. “Because of the growing amount of social media data, researchers and public health departments will soon be able to build upon these methods to more accurately monitor and detect health behaviors and disease outbreaks.”