Health Equity & Media Lab

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Ongoing Projects

Virus2Viral: Identifying key characteristics for HIV prevention using social media.

Social media are a dominant force in the lives of young men, with racial/ethnic and sexual/gender minority
adolescents and young adults indicating that it is one of their primary sources of information, including
information about HIV prevention. At present, little is known about how to best leverage social media to
promote the pillars of the HIV prevention continuum (testing, condoms, and PrEP). We will use a Reasoned
Action Approach (RAA) to elucidate how users discuss HIV prevention behaviors (i.e., PrEP, HIV testing,
condom use) through social media.

#sexmessages: Social Media, sexual risk, & substance use behaviors among African American and Latino youth.

The primary goal of the proposed research is to examine and characterize the “digital media neighborhood”, which we conceptualize as the social media environment in which youth learn and communicate about sex and substance use. Since this is a relatively new area of focus, there is a paucity of research. Thus, it is necessary to operationalize the concept of a “digital media neighborhood,” and assess its relationship with sexual risk behaviors among social media users. The term “digital media neighborhood” represents the online community that youth create and are exposed to through their social media platforms.

Social Media and Risk Behavior in Youth

This line of research seeks to leverage the power of Big Data to plan targeted interventions for high-risk youth. Our lab analyzes identifies, classifies, and analyzes risky content in social media posts and investigates the associations between those posts and how youth behave offline. 

Social Change and Depression of Social Media

Integrating insights from our lab's prior social media research, the social context of contemporary race relations & media coverage, and the well-researched positive relationship between depression and risky behavior, this project aims to triangulate social media language that refers to drug use/abuse and uses depressive language.