HPV vaccine, Twitter, and gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men

Alexandra Budenz, Ann Klassen, Amy Leader, Kara Fisher, Elad Yom-Tov, Philip Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study aimed to quantify human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Twitter messaging addressing gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBþMSM) and describes messaging by vaccine sentiment (attitudes towards vaccine) and characteristics (topic of messaging). Between August 2014 and July 2015, we collected 193 379 HPV-related tweets and classified them by vaccine sentiment and characteristics. We analysed a subsample of tweets containing the terms ‘gay’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘MSM’ (N ¼ 2306), and analysed distributions of sentiment and characteristics using chi-square. HPV-related tweets containing GBþMSM terms occupied 1% of our sample. The subsample had a largely positive vaccine sentiment. However, a proportion of ‘gay’ and ‘bisexual’ tweets did not mention the vaccine, and a proportion of ‘gay’ and ‘MSM’ tweets had a negative sentiment. Topics varied by GBþMSM term—HPV risk messaging was prevalent in ‘bisexual’ (25%) tweets, and HPV transmission through sex/promiscuity messaging was prevalent in ‘gay’ (18%) tweets. Prevention/protection messaging was prevalent only in ‘MSM’ tweets (49%). Although HPV vaccine sentiment was positive in GBþMSM messaging, we identified deficits in the volume of GBþMSM messaging, a lack of focus on vaccination, and a proportion of negative tweets. While HPV vaccine promotion has historically focused on heterosexual HPV transmission, there are opportunities to shape vaccine uptake in GBþMSM through public health agenda setting using social media messaging that increases knowledge and minimizes HPV vaccine stigma. Social media-based HPV vaccine promotion should also address the identities of those at risk to bolster vaccine uptake and reduce the risk of HPV-attributable cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-300
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the American Cancer Society [grant number IRG 14-251-07]. This study was examined and ruled exempt by the Drexel University Institutional Review Board.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cancer prevention
  • GB1MSM
  • HPV vaccine
  • Social media
  • Twitter
  • Public Health
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities/statistics & numerical data
  • Papillomavirus Infections/prevention & control
  • Global Health
  • Attitude to Health
  • Social Media
  • Humans
  • Homosexuality, Male/statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines/administration & dosage
  • Adult

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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