Characterizing HIV discussions and engagement on Twitter

Aqdas Malik*, Angi Antonino, M. Laeeq Khan, Marko Nieminen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
94 Downloads (Pure)


The novel settings provided by social media facilitate users to seek and share information on a wide array of subjects, including healthcare and wellness. Analyzing health-related opinions and discussions on these platforms complement traditional public health surveillance systems to support timely and effective interventions. This study aims to characterize the HIV-related conversations on Twitter by identifying the prevalent topics and the key events and actors involved in these discussions. Through Twitter API, we collected tweets containing the hashtag #HIV for a one-year period. After pre-processing the collected data, we conducted engagement analysis, temporal analysis, and topic modeling algorithm on the analytical sample (n = 122,807). Tweets by HIV/AIDS/LGBTQ activists and physicians received the highest level of engagement. An upsurge in tweet volume and engagement was observed during global and local events such as World Aids Day and HIV/AIDS awareness and testing days for trans-genders, blacks, women, and the aged population. Eight topics were identified that include “stigma”, “prevention”, “epidemic in the developing countries”, “World Aids Day”, “treatment”, “events”, “PrEP”, and “testing”. Social media discussions offer a nuanced understanding of public opinions, beliefs, and sentiments about numerous health-related issues. The current study reports various dimensions of HIV-related posts on Twitter. Based on the findings, public health agencies and pertinent entities need to proactively use Twitter and other social media by engaging the public through involving influencers. The undertaken methodological choices may be applied to further assess HIV discourse on other popular social media platforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1237-1245
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • AIDS
  • Digital health
  • Engagement
  • HIV
  • Public health surveillance
  • Social media
  • Twitter


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterizing HIV discussions and engagement on Twitter'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this