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5 Monkeys Get JFK or 9/11 type spread

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I’m just amazed.

Strib HIV headline.JPG

The headline is WRONG. It DIDN’T block HIV. The H in HIV stands for “Human.” This was research on SIV – S is for Simian – so we’re talking about a virus in monkeys.

I am not anti-science. And I’m certainly all in favor of educating people about advances in research. But there is a weight and an emphasis given to this kind of placement. And so, even though the story has caveats, they are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, the pull quote, the breakthrough language.

5 monkeys followed for two weeks, one of whom did, indeed, become infected when you follow it out for five months.

Interesting? Yes.

Important? Yes.

Page one breakthrough? Not in my book.

And let’s go down the boulevard of broken dreams of hope that didn’t pan out – a headline one year ago – “Anti-AIDS gel disappoints, researchers say.”

The leap from animal research to human efficacy is huge. It can’t be stated often enough.

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March 5, 2009 at 10:03 am

Nothing like a dubious leap of logic in a boldface headline! Thanks for drawing attention to this.


March 5, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Luckily Health News Review doesn’t rate British newspapers. There’s a dubious “breakthrough” every other day!
For comparison, we can look at Jon Cohen’s writeup of the recent HIV/AIDS meeting in Science:
“Unlike in years past, there was hardly a peep about new anti-HIV drugs and no major surprises surfaced about existing treatment or prevention strategies.”

Bill Gleason

March 5, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Sadly, even our CEO at the U of M used the occasion of his State of the University address today to brag about this.