JHU Engineering: The ‘Charlie Sheen Effect’

July 5, 2016

After actor Charlie Sheen disclosed his HIV-positive status on NBC’s Today show last November, millions took to the Internet to find out more about HIV, according to a new study led by computer scientist Mark Dredze and two Whiting School alumni.

The multi-institution study, published Feb. 22 by JAMA Internal Medicine, found record highs in domestic news coverage of HIV and in Google searches for information about HIV and HIV prevention soon after Sheen’s announcement.

“Charlie Sheen’s disclosure was potentially the most significant domestic HIV prevention event ever,” says study co-author Dredze, who has been a leader in the study of online data to monitor the spread of flu cases, mental illness trends, and other health topics. He worked with lead author John Ayers, SPH, PhD ’11, at the San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health, and Benjamin Althouse, SPH, PhD ’14, at the Institute for Disease Modeling and the Santa Fe Institute.

Excerpted from JHU Engineering magazine

Center for Language and Speech Processing