Social Media, Infectious Disease, & Public Health:
Comparing HIV and H1N1 prevention
Denise Silber (Basil Strategies, Paris),
Nataly Pletneva & Celia Boyer (HON Foundation,Geneva)
Around 20 000 FB users “like” BornHIVfree group.
—> “H1N1 vaccination” search in FB reveals that most
popular groups are against the vaccination
BEFORE (6 months) 19.11.2009 - 18.05.2010 657,000
DURING 19.05.2010 - 05.10.2010: 963,000
AFTER (1 month) 06.10.2010 - 05.11.2010: 353,000
BEFORE (6 months) 01.04.2009 - 30.09.2009: 1,890,000
DURING 01.10.2009 -31.03.2010: 2,030,000
AFTER (1 month) 01.04.2010 - 01.05.2010: 518,000
—> BornHIVFREE: impact on occurrences. - CDC: impact not measurable.
297 searching results on Flickr (226 are by Global Fund)
—> CDC ehealth shows 35 results on Flickr. All of them display the promotional materials of
H1N1 vaccination campaign.
BornHIVfree, actively supported by Youtube
has its own channel with 8800 subscribers
and 17 689 744 views (14 mln at the end of
campaign and still growing).
Keyword bornHIVfree: 348 occurrences
including 30 campaign videos, listed among
the first in the search results by popularity.
—> About 20 million people watched
BornHIVFree's videos on its website and
YouTube, the Global Fund said3
Keyword “H1N1 vaccination”: 6400 videos.
The first-ranked by popularity are :
1) SWINE FLU H1N1 VaCciNe "The Truth"
2) Flu Shot Disables Beautiful Cheerleader
(Dystonia Disorde 1096126 views)
3) Makers Of Vaccine Refuse To Take H1N1
—> Leading videos are all against vaccination..
BornHIVfree is not accessible anymore on Twitter, but it had 1990 followers.
No info for H1N1 vaccination.
Since traffic on the Internet is dominated by social media platforms, two key public health
subjects in 2010, both related to infectious disease, H1N1 grippe and HIV mother to child
transmission, were frequent subjects on Facebook, Youtube and others. We examined to
what extent public health institutions are present on these platforms.
H1N1: The 2009 flu pandemic tapered off in November 2009 and was declared over
on the 10th August 20101
. During the pandemic, the CDC, as did other governmental
organs around the world, recommended that the public and professionals be vaccinated.
HIV: The Global Fund used social media between May 19 and October 5, 2010 to involve
citizens in various countries in the fight against mother to child transmission. The Global
Fund reminded us that in Africa 400,000 babies were born with HIV in 2009, despite our
ability to eradicate the transmission2
1. We compared occurrences of keywords
on Google and leading Social Media
platforms, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter,
during the periods in which: a) the CDC
communicated to Americans regarding
H1N1 vaccination and b) the Global Fund
communicated regarding mother to child
transmission of HIV via a new « brand »
Bornhivfree which we were able to
2. We compared a) the number of users
“in favor” and b) the number who
Some related information:
For 2010-2011 CDC launched video/image content “Flu ends with you”
CDC social media toolkit
example of 2009/10 H1N1 campaign
an example of another H1N1 campaign
1. “WHO | H1N1 in post-pandemic period”
2. The Global Fund 2010: Innovation and Impact.
http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/publications/progressreports/2010/. Retrieved 2010_
3. AFP: 700,000 sign HIV funding petition: campaign.
Id=CNG.d1f8700c150cf024d03251a9cdc0319a.391. Retrieved 2010_
BornHIVfree was successful in creating positive “buzz”.
The CDC alone was unable to impact negative opinions nor
significantly increase the share of positive information.
These results may be biased in that “mother to child transmission”
is not currently as controversial as the H1N1 vaccination. However,
health policy makers should develop social media competency, for
epidemiology, communication, and dialogue.
Author contact information: