Actor Charlie Sheen confessed that he is HIV positive on November 17 last year and since then there has been an immense increment in the media coverage and search keywords related to the HIV.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University conducted the study over the search trends and media coverage related to HIV and AIDS. For the study, they monitored data available through google trends and the public archive of Bloomberg Terminal from 2004 to 2015.
Study authors were astonished to note that the disclosure of Sheen who was the highest paid actor in 2010 was marked by the 265 percent increase in news reports mentioning HIV (97 percent of which also mentioned Sheen) archived on the Bloomberg Terminal.
An additional 6,500 stories were reported on Google News alone. This placed Sheen’s disclosure among the top one percent of historic HIV-related media events.
Google recorded the highest number of HIV search keyword in a single day after Sheen disclosed that he is HIV positive in an interview given to NBC.
Researchers expected that people will search about Charlie Sheen and HIV for next couple of weeks but the searches were 417 percent higher than expected on the day of Sheen’s disclosure. More than 2.75 million people searched the HIV on the November 17.
Scientists say that when celebrities reveal such information it boosts the awareness campaign and helps society in preventing such diseases.
Study co-author Eric Leas, a student of health communication at the University of California at San Diego, said: “Celebrity disclosures are not new to HIV, with Rock Hudson and Magic Johnson serving as noteworthy examples. Yet, Sheen’s disclosure could be different.
“Unlike with Magic Johnson for instance, we have smartphones in our pockets that we can easily use to learn about HIV within seconds with a single search or click.
“At the same time, social media can expand the effect of Sheen’s disclosure beyond the initial TV broadcast as networks form around celebrities.” However, Ayers said the public health community appeared not to be making the most of the opportunity offered by Sheen.
“Sadly, the public health community may be missing the mark. I’m unaware of any major HIV educational campaigns that are using Sheen’s disclosure for public health outreach.”