Date Published: March 27, 2017
Publisher: Springer US
Author(s): René Clausen Nielsen, Miguel Luengo-Oroz, Maeve B. Mello, Josi Paz, Colin Pantin, Taavi Erkkola.
Big data can be used to assess perceptions about public health issues. This study assessed social media data from Twitter to inform communication campaigns to promote HIV testing and reduce discrimination related to HIV/AIDS or towards key populations to the HIV epidemic, and its potential utility to evaluate such campaigns through HIV testing uptake. Tweets from Brazil were collected from January 2014 to March 2015 and filtered by four categories of keywords including discrimination, HIV prevention, HIV testing, and HIV campaigns. In total over 100,000 geo-located tweets were extracted and analyzed. A dynamic online dashboard updated daily allowed mapping trends, anomalies and influencers, and enabled its use for feedback to campaigns, including correcting misconceptions. These results encourage the use of social networking data for improved messaging in campaigns. Clinical HIV test data was collected monthly from the city of Curitiba and compared to the number of tweets mapped to the city showing a moderate positive correlation (r = 0.39). Results are limited due to the availability of the HIV testing data. The potential of social media as a proxy for HIV testing uptake needs further validation, which can only be done with higher frequency and higher spatial granularity of service delivery data, enabling comparisons with the social media data. Such timely information could empower early response immediate media messaging to support programmatic efforts, such as HIV prevention, testing, and treatment scale up.
Of the 37 million people living with HIV in the world, 15 million do not know their HIV-positive status . Ending the AIDS epidemic is in sight, and is being set as a target for year 2030. Key to reaching the target is testing and diagnosing people living with HIV, which will enable them to access treatment, and in turn improve their quality of life and reduce new infections. While, globally, the number of new HIV infections has systematically been decreasing since its peak in 1997, new infections among one of the most affected populations, gay men and other men who have sex with men, continue to expand in most countries . One of the greatest bottlenecks to reach the 2030 global goal is stigma and discrimination related to HIV and AIDS and specific populations that carry a disproportional burden of the epidemic. Stigma and discrimination hinder people’s access to health care services and their ability to remain in care. Monitoring and evaluation efforts in countries have traditionally focused on epidemiological, clinical and surveillance data . Population level surveys have been used to measure people’s knowledge and behaviours, which have informed prevention efforts. However, due to their cost and timeliness (once every 3–5 years), there is a need to complement such data with more frequent, dynamic and granular data collection efforts. Use of big data, such as social media data is being explored as means to expose discrimination and other behavioural bottlenecks.
This research analysed all the public Tweets published between January 2014 and March 2015 in Brazil. The Twitter Firehose was accessed through the Datasift platform to filter out the relevant messages from the approximately 228 billion public tweets posted during the period studied. The data processing pipeline to filter the relevant HIV and discrimination related tweets developed in this project can be divided into two steps (Fig. 1):Fig. 1Processing framework: a First, tweets were filtered against a taxonomy consisting of 1966 keywords and phrases relevant to HIV & Discrimination. b Secondly, it was determined whether each tweet was written in Brazil (latitude and longitude from metadata) or written by a person from Brazil (self-reported user location). c1 All tweets matching the taxonomy and with a relation to state capitals and World Cup host cities were included in the visualization dashboard. c2 Statistics on tweets from Curitiba where compared against clinical data in the number of HIV tests performed
Big data can be used to assess perceptions about public health issues. This study assessed social media data from Twitter to inform communication campaigns to promote HIV testing and reduce discrimination related to HIV and/AIDS or towards key populations to the HIV epidemic, and its potential utility to evaluate such campaigns through HIV testing uptake.