This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background: The HIV epidemic in Hong Kong has worsened in recent years, with major contributions from high-risk subgroup of men who have sex with men (MSM). Internet use is prevalent among the majority of the local population, where they sought health information online. This study examines the impacts of HIV/AIDS and MSM news coverage on web search query in Hong Kong. Methods: Relevant news coverage about HIV/AIDS and MSM from January 1st, 2004 to December 31st, 2014 was obtained from the WiseNews databse. News trends were created by computing the number of relevant articles by type, topic, place of origin and sub-populations. We then obtained relevant search volumes from Google and analysed causality between news trends and Google Trends using Granger Causality test and orthogonal impulse function. Results: We found that editorial news has an impact on “HIV” Google searches on HIV, with the search term popularity peaking at an average of two weeks after the news are published. Similarly, editorial news has an impact on the frequency of “AIDS” searches two weeks after. MSM-related news trends have a more fluctuating impact on “MSM” Google searches, although the time lag varies anywhere from one week later to ten weeks later. Conclusions: This infodemiological study shows that there is a positive impact of news trends on the online search behavior of HIV/AIDS or MSM-related issues for up to ten weeks after. Health promotional professionals could make use of this brief time window to tailor the timing of HIV awareness campaigns and public health interventions to maximise its reach and effectiveness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)