Researchers from UCLA found that Twitter and other real-time social media can be used to track HIV outbreaks as well as drug behavior. The platforms can be used to potentially help detection and prevention efforts in the future.

The team's study is published in the journal Preventive Medicine and conducted through the Center for Digital Behavior at UCLA. The study suggests a link between geographic outbreaks and tweets with phrases that indicate drug-related and sexually risky behavior.
Scientists collected 550 million tweets between May 26 and Dec. 9, 2012, and developed an algorithm to find phrases including words such as "sex" and "get high." They plotted the tweets on a map and ran statistical models to check if the locations matched areas where HIV cases had been reported.

To their surprise, they found a significant relationship between those tweets and locations. There were many reported cases and they used public data from 2009, but in order to predict the future, they would require frequently updated data.

Isn't interesting how social media can use data to predict these kinds of trends?

[H/T Circa]