GOOD

How AI Can Help Prevent The Spread Of STIs

To combat the spread of STIs, HEALER is AI used to locate health influencers and start a word-of-mouth domino effect.

The most common STIs are spreading all too quickly among teenagers and 20-somethings. Yet, it’s entirely preventable. There are plenty of reasons for the rampant spread — a lack of education and resources, for starters. Public health awareness still has a long way to go. And it doesn’t help that the communities that need health awareness the most are often also the areas that don’t get enough education funding or that oppose sex education.

In 2016, the three most common STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) reached record highs for the third straight year, according to the CDC. There were 1.59 million cases of chlamydia, a 4.7% increase from the record numbers in 2015. 63% of those cases were found in young adults ages 15 to 24, as were more than 50% of the gonorrhea cases. The fact that plenty of young adults are not getting tested isn’t helping. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends full STD testing for women ages 15 to 24, but only half that population are screened according to the appropriate guidelines.


Image by Giovanna Cornelio/Pixabay.

Enter an unlikely advocate for STI prevention: artificial intelligence. A new AI tool called HEALER (a “hierarchical ensembling-based agent that plans for effective reduction in HIV spread) is using an algorithm to provide a unique solution. Essentially, this AI is helping spread information by targeting health-oriented community influencers. The goal is to increase public health awareness, and it seems like this artificial intelligence agent is having better luck than control groups disseminating similar information. (Looks like control groups could become obsolete sooner than we think.)

There’s a pilot program in Los Angeles that’s currently trying HEALER on for size. The HIV prevention program is primarily targeting Los Angeles’ homeless youth. HEALER is able to identify influencers within the group to spread awareness. Essentially, HEALER uses AI to start a word-of-mouth domino effect. If the influencer understands more about the spread of STIs, then the influencer can tell 10 people, who can tell another 10 people, and so on.

In this most recent pilot program, HEALER got information out to 70% of homeless youths identified by the program. A control group conducted in a similar span of time was able to get the same amount of information out to only 25% of that audience.

This Los Angeles pilot program is only the beginning. HEALER hopes to launch on a global scale, allowing this AI to keep effecting social change and promoting public health awareness worldwide.

Health
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading
Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading
The Planet