Not quite, but a recent study shows that the microblogging site can be used to monitor incidences of the virus with the hope of eventually being able to detect and forecast where outbreaks might occur.
The study, conducted by a team at the Center for Digital Behaviour at UCLA, looked at how real-time social media platforms such as Twitter can be used to possibly track HIV by monitoring phrase and language patterns about sexual and drug-related behaviour in tweets, plotting the geographic origin of the tweets and comparing them with data about the geographic distribution of HIV.
As part of their methodology, researchers collected more than 550 million tweets throughout the United States between May 26 and December 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, linking these spots to data from online mapping tool, AIDSVu.org, which visually represents the prevalence of reported cases of HIV in the US.
Linking the tweets to the data from AIDSVu.org showed a significant relationship social media updates that indicate risky behaviour and areas in the US with high numbers of reported cases.
The data from AIDSVu.org was from 2009 which the researchers admit hinders any ability to make predictions about outbreaks. Having access to up-to-date data would allow tweets to be assessed against an area’s reported cases of HIV instantly.
Nevertheless, studies such as these show that there is reason to believe that big data platforms like social media could be used to monitor HIV and therefore assist in detection and prevention measures. At the very least, it warrants more funding for research.