What do people talk about on World Aids Day?

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In recognition of World AIDS Day, Global Pulse presents to you…

World AIDS Day in the Twitterverse.

In collaboration with our partners at Crimson Hexagon, Global Pulse has been looking at all tweets in the US and Indonesia that deal with HIV/AIDS.  Since today, December 1, is World AIDS Day, we decided to point our analysis at how World AIDS Day influenced the conversation on Twitter for 2010.  The great thing about this communication platform is that we can look at the World AIDS Day 2011 data as soon as it is available—which will be December 2, 2011.  Twitter is truly real time.

On World AIDS Day in 2010, discussions around HIV/AIDS reached over 9,000 tweets in Indonesia, up from just under 100 tweets a month earlier on November 1, 2010.  In Indonesia, the category “community information” experienced the highest increase as a proportion of all tweets related to HIV/AIDS.

Figure 1: Conversations around HIV/AIDS in Indonesia, November 4, 2010 to January 4, 2011

We had some of these tweets translated from Bahasa Indonesian and Javanese.  In the thematic category of “community information,” here are some examples of the tweets:

Every six seconds, one person is infected with HIV. More than half of them are children. Save your future, guys. || ‘Setiap enam detik, ada satu orang terinfeksi HIV. Lebih dari setengahnya adalah anak muda’. Save your future, guys.

Good Morning Everyone! Today is World AIDS Day. Let’s help prevent it by spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS. || selamat pagi semua! Hari ini adalah Hari AIDS sedunia. mari kita membantu pencegahan dengan menyebarkan kesadaran tentang HIV/AIDS

The HIV Virus spreads through bodily fluids containing HIV (i.e. mother’s milk and blood), blood transfusions, sex, and HIV-contaminated needles || Virus HIV dpt menular melalui cairan tubuh ber-HIV (spt ASI&darah), jg transfusi darah, seks,& jarum suntik ber-HIV. #mbljr

Under the category of “discrimination,” the tweets were similarly inspired by World AIDS Day:

Stop discrimination of all forms from all of us against PLWHA!! || Stop diskriminasi dlm btk apapun dari kita semua untuk para #ODHA !!

In recognition of World AIDS Day, let’s prevent stigma and discrimination against PLWHA, they have the same human rights all people are worthy of || Memperingati hari AIDS sedunia mari Cegah stigma dan diskriminasi terhadap ODHA, mereka punya hak asasi yg sma sprti layaknya manusia.

Figure 2 below shows the volume of tweets in the US related to HIV/AIDS from November 2, 2010 to January 2, 2011.  In the US, the number of tweets on World AIDS Day reached close to 50,000—up from just a little over 1,000 a month earlier.  As a proportion of all tweets on World AIDS Day, those which related to stigma dropped the most and the largest increase was related to safe practice/ be safe/ get tested.

Figure 2: Conversation around HIV/AIDS in the United States, November 2, 2010 to January 2, 2011

The trending clusters of words in all of the categories on World AIDS Day 2010 and one month earlier on November 1, 2010 are depicted in Figures 3 and 4.  While it is clear that testing is something that trends in both cases, the nature of the conversation on World AIDS Day overall has a very different tone.

Figure 3: Cluster of trending words in all categories on World AIDS Day

Figure 4: Cluster of trending words in all categories on November 1, 2010

What more can we say about HIV by looking at Twitter?  We’re starting to explore this in collaboration with Crimson Hexagon.  Based on our initial work with Twitter, we have a few ideas on how to go about it.  A couple of them are outlined below.

First, we’re hoping to track people’s perceptions of HIV over time. This includes looking at stigma towards people living with HIV/AIDS and perceptions of other items related to HIV/AIDS, such as condoms.

Second, similar to what we’ve done here with World AIDS Day, we hope to be able to track conversation around HIV/AIDS campaigns and events.  In this case, Twitter might be able to essentially act as a tool that organizations can use to monitor their effectiveness, similar to how a private sector company looks to social media to monitor an ad campaign or new product. 

With an issue like HIV/AIDS, in which people’s attitudes, knowledge and behavior are critical to being able to address the problem, monitoring Twitter trends could be a particularly useful platform to understand how these issues might be getting better or worse over time.

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