Twitter posts may one day serve as a means to monitor risky sexual behaviors in real time, helping hone HIV prevention efforts, CBS News reports. Publishing their findings in ScienceDirect, investigators searched 553 million tweets for key words that indicated a theoretical likelihood in engaging in risky sexual behaviors, such as those referring to specific sexual behaviors or drug use. The researchers then compared the almost 10,000 flagged online posts to 2009 geographic data from, which diagrams HIV prevalence and incidence according to location across the country.

The researchers found that there was significant positive correlation between the flagged tweets and cases of HIV in the respective locations of those making the online posts. They concluded that their findings “suggest the feasibility of using social networking data as a method for evaluating and detecting HIV risk behaviors and outcomes.”

To read the CBS News report, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.