NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine -

Swine flu-HIV could devastate human race: worst story yet?

Posted By


There’s considerable discussion on the listserv of the Association of Health Care Journalists about this UPI story – with the above headline – being the worst yet on flu coverage.

Among the comments journalists posted:

• The paragraphs about HIV looks like someone stuck it in there, as it bears little resemblance to the rest of the story.

• It says “Health authorities are particularly worried that the capability to mutate already exhibited by the virus could eventually let it combine with the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.” Then it gives a sentence comparing that to the Spanish flu, and that’s the end of the possible “mixing” with HIV. No sources on this at all, only the very ambiguous “health authorities.”

• It throws out completely unsubstantiated data with no source. There is also no background info on that–even in the absence of resources, it gives no background on why anyone would think that it could combine with HIV, or how that could even happen. Or what makes this flu strain so special that it would have a special affinity for HIV.

• Reuters uses some pretty loose language too. I think they’re both overinterpreting the WHO statement, which discusses the comorbidity of the two infections, not some apocalyptic biological combination.

• There is no scientific basis for such speculation, or evidence that it has occurred in the decades that both viruses have been around.

• The speculation makes about as much sense as saying that because dogs and cats are both pets, some day they might combine to produce a dat or cog.

You might also like


Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.


May 8, 2009 at 12:01 am

While being a serious post, your last bullet point had me laughing at my computer.
Don’t forget dots and cags!