AAAI Publications, Twelfth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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"Is This an STD? Please Help!": Online Information Seeking for Sexually Transmitted Diseases on Reddit
Alicia L. Nobles, Caitlin N. Dreisbach, Jessica Keim-Malpass, Laura E. Barnes

Last modified: 2018-06-15

Abstract


Increasing incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) has prompted the public health and technology communities to innovate new measures to understand how individuals use Internet resources to attain relevant information, particularly for sensitive or stigmatized conditions. The purpose of this study is to examine recent health information seeking and needs of the r/STD community, a subreddit focused exclusively on STDs. We found that the majority of posts crowdsource information about intermediate, non-reportable STDs such as human papillomavirus (HPV). Crowdsourced information in this community focused on symptoms, treatment, as well as the social and emotional aspects of sexual health such as fear of misdiagnosis. From our analysis, it is clear that online communities focused on discussion of health symptoms have the ripe potential to influence information-seeking behavior and consumer action.

Keywords


online information seeking; sexually transmitted infections; topic modeling

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