Some good may have come from listening to Charlie Sheen talk.
The actor’s disclosure that he was HIV-positive back in November corresponded with a massive increase in internet searches for information about the disease and how to prevent it, according to a new study co-authored by a Johns Hopkins University researcher.
“Charlie Sheen’s disclosure was potentially the most significant domestic HIV prevention event ever,” Mark Dredze, assistant research professor in the JHU Whiting School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science, said in a news release.
For the study, published this month in Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine, researchers examined data on news media trends and Google searches on HIV prevention dating back to 2004, according to the university.
While the volume of HIV-related news articles was declining, there was a 265 percent increase in news reports mentioning the virus archived on the Bloomberg Terminal on the day of Sheen’s announcement; 6,500 more stories were reported on Google News alone, according to the study.
That day also saw the highest number of HIV-related Google searchers ever recorded in one day in the United States, with 2.75 million more searches that normal, according to the study
Searches relating to HIV symptoms and HIV testing increased 540 percent and 214 percent, according to the study.
Dredze said in a statement that Sheen’s announcement occurred in a different environment than some other celebrity announcements about HIV. “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,” he said.