14 July 2007

A press release on a press release

It isn't often that a team of researchers feels the need to issue a press release to counter the coverage of their work sparked off by an earlier press release. Indeed, this statement from a group at Imperial College may be unique.

It all started with a paper in PLoS Medicine on HIV and AIDS. Imperial College put out its own press release on the paper. Unfortunately, the media had to get in the way with its own interpretation. It seems that they got it wrong in what they wrote:

"Unfortunately, the news coverage has given the impression that our study shows that current scientific thinking regarding how HIV causes AIDS is wrong, and that we 'refute a long-standing theory.' This is incorrect, and is a serious misrepresentation of both our work and that of HIV researchers worldwide."
It may come as no surprise to some that the point at issue is over whether HIV causes AIDS, something that certain newspapers have denied for many a year. Seems that they jumped at the wrong opportunity to "prove" that they were right all along.

It is a pity that the scientists at Imperial don't name names. Then again, journalists can be very touchy about such things and have been known to run to their lawyers at the slightest excuse.

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