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JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2018 Nov 22;4(4):e10262. doi: 10.2196/10262.

How Twitter Can Support the HIV/AIDS Response to Achieve the 2030 Eradication Goal: In-Depth Thematic Analysis of World AIDS Day Tweets.

Author information

Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, United States.
Charles E Young Research Library, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States.
University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, IL, United States.
Amazon, Seattle, WA, United States.
Contributed equally



HIV/AIDS is a tremendous public health crisis, with a call for its eradication by 2030. A human rights response through civil society engagement is critical to support and sustain HIV eradication efforts. However, ongoing civil engagement is a challenge.


This study aimed to demonstrate the use of Twitter data to assess public sentiment in support of civil society engagement.


Tweets were collected during World AIDS Days 2014 and 2015. A total of 39,940 unique tweets (>10 billion users) in 2014 and 78,215 unique tweets (>33 billion users) in 2015 were analyzed. Response frequencies were aggregated using natural language processing. Hierarchical rank-2 nonnegative matrix factorization algorithm generated a hierarchy of tweets into binary trees. Tweet hierarchy clusters were thematically organized by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS core action principles and categorized under HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment or Care, or Support.


Topics tweeted 35 times or more were visualized. Results show a decrease in 2015 in the frequency of tweets associated with the fight to end HIV/AIDS, the recognition of women, and to achieve an AIDS-free generation. Moreover, an increase in tweets was associated with an integrative approach to the HIV/AIDS response. Hierarchical thematic differences in 2015 included no prevention discussion and the recognition of the pandemic's impact and discrimination. In addition, a decrease was observed in motivation to fast track the pandemic's end and combat HIV/AIDS.


The human rights-based response to HIV/AIDS eradication is critical. Findings demonstrate the usefulness of Twitter as a low-cost method to assess public sentiment for enhanced knowledge, increased hope, and revitalized expectations for HIV/AIDS eradication.


Twitter; community; human rights; infodemiology; infoveillence; social network

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