An Examination of Twitter Data to Identify Risky Sexual Practices Among Youth and Young Adults in Botswana

Cornelius, J., Kennedy, A. and Wesslen, R.

Botswana has the third highest rate of HIV infection, as well as one of the highest mobile phone density rates in the world. The rate of mobile cell phone adoption has increased three-fold over the past 10 years. Due to HIV infection rates, youth and young adults are the primary target for prevention efforts. One way to improve prevention efforts is to examine how risk reduction messages are disseminated on social media platforms such as Twitter. Thus, to identify key words related to safer sex practices and HIV prevention, we examined three months of Twitter data in Botswana. 1 December 2015, was our kick off date, and we ended data collection on 29 February 2016. To gather the tweets, we searched for HIV-related terms in English and in Setswana. From the 140,240 tweets collected from 251 unique users, 576 contained HIV-related terms. A representative sample of 25 active Twitter users comprised individuals, one government site and 2 organizations. Data revealed that tweets related to HIV prevention and AIDS did not occur more frequently during the month of December when compared to January and February (t = 3.62, p > 0.05). There was no significant difference between the numbers of HIV related tweets that occurred from 1 December 2015 to 29 February 2016 (F = 32.1, p > 0.05). The tweets occurred primarily during the morning and evening hours and on Tuesdays followed by Thursdays and Fridays. The least number of tweets occurred on Sunday. The highest number of followers was associated with the Botswana government Twitter site. Twitter analytics was found to be useful in providing insight into information being tweeted regarding risky sexual behaviors.

April 12, 2019
Year of publication
Resource types
Journal and research articles
risk reduction, adolescent HIV prevention, social and behavior change communication, adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health

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