Press Release: Combining Social Media and Behavioral Psychology Could Lead to More HIV Testing

UCLA research suggests a valuable tool in the fight against the virus that causes AIDS

Social media such as Twitter and Facebook can be valuable in the fight against HIV in the United States, where research has demonstrated they can prompt high-risk populations to request at-home testing kits for the virus that causes AIDS, suggesting a way to potentially boost testing rates.

But does it lead to actual testing, and can it work outside the United States? A new study from the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior published online Dec. 15 by the peer-reviewed journal Lancet HIV suggests that it can. The study, conducted in Peru among men who have sex with men, found that participants in the intervention arm of a randomized controlled clinical trial were more than twice as likely to be tested for HIV than those who joined a social media group and were provided with traditional HIV prevention services.

Continue reading

Press Release: UCLA-led Research into Big Data among First Recipients of New UC President Research Awards

Experts in computer, social and health sciences to study how to use social media data to address public health, poverty and inequality.

A team of researchers led by UCLA professor Sean Young is among the first of five recipients of a new University of California research grant intended to spur discoveries with direct societal impacts.

Young, an assistant professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-director of the Center for Digital Behavior at UCLA, will lead a group of experts in computer, social and health sciences from four UC campuses to study how to use social media data to address public health, poverty and inequality. Young has studied, among other topics, how social media can track HIV incidence.

The $300,000 award will be used to help establish a UC Social Big Data Institute that unites the scholarship of researchers at UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego and UC Irvine who are studying Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.

Continue reading

Press Release: Can Social Media Help Stop the Spread of HIV?

In addition to providing other potential benefits to public health, all of those tweets and Facebook posts could help curb the spread of HIV.

Although public health researchers have focused early applications of social media on reliably monitoring the spread of diseases such as the flu, Sean Young of the Center for Digital Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, writes in an October 29th article in the Cell Press journal Trends in Microbiology of a future in which social media might predict and even change biomedical outcomes.

Continue reading