Washington: A new study shows that domestic news coverage of HIV as well as Google searches for information about HIV and HIV prevention rose soon after actor Charlie Sheen’s November 17, 2015, disclosure that he was HIV-positive.
Researcher Mark Dredze said the disclosure was potentially the most significant domestic HIV prevention event ever.
The researchers knew that the involvement of a celebrity often raises public awareness about a health issue. They wondered whether Sheen’s disclosure had shone a fresh spotlight on HIV, and in doing so produced an important public health benefit.
To find out, the team turned to public archives for news media trends, using the Bloomberg Terminal and Google Trends to collect data describing HIV and HIV prevention engagement since 2004.
Focusing on the hours after Sheen’s disclosure, the team monitored news reports mentioning HIV and Google searches originating from the United States and sorted into four categories: HIV (all searches with ‘HIV’), condoms (all searches with ‘condom’ or ‘condoms’), HIV symptomology (all searches with ‘symptom,’ ‘symptoms’ or ‘signs of’ and ‘HIV’) and HIV testing (all searches with ‘test,’ ‘tests,’ or ‘testing’ and ‘HIV’).
Althouse, data architect of the study said that this big data strategy allowed them to provide a formative assessment of the potential impacts of Charlie Sheen’s HIV-positive disclosure at no cost.
This study has been published in JAMA Internal Medicine. (ANI)