Could Social Media Help Prevent The Spread Of HIV?

First Posted: Oct 30, 2014 02:39 PM EDT

Continuous technological advances are helping make headway in the medical world. Now, recent findings published in the journal Trends in Microbiology show that health-related data collected from social media websites can help to track, predict and even prevent certain health conditions-including the spread of HIV.

"We know that mining social media will have huge potential benefits for many areas of medicine in the future, but we're still in the early stages of testing how powerful these technologies will be," said lead study author Sean Young from the Center for Digital Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a news release.

Based on recent findings from Behavioral Insights on Big Data(BIBD), Young believes that governments, medical care facilities, public health departments and caretakers can use critical information on the health issue to help monitor medical patterns.

In some instances, researchers found that tweets could help reveal if people were engaged or planning on sexual contact. Furthermore, by mapping out the trends, researchers could work to determine if locations could bene3fit the most from prevention programs aimed to reduce HIV transmission.

The researchers also looked at data from an intervention program that collected information on African American and Latino men who shared their sexual experiences with other men as well, including personal coming out stories in which they talked about HIV.

"Since people are already getting used to the fact that corporations are doing this, we should at least support public health researchers in using these same methods to try and improve our health and well being," Young concluded. "We're already seeing increased support from patients and public health departments."

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