Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

PrEP works: Now what? (24/11/10)

It´s official. Taking antiretroviral drugs when you don´t have HIV cuts the risk that you´ll get infected. It´s exciting news, if not unexpected. But it´s going to be a major headache for politicians. The results of the iPrEx trial, were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine (with pdf but not the supplementary […]

Stigma soup: HIV testing at the borders (28/10/10)

Can you protect your nation from HIV by testing immigrants for the virus? Even the United States now thinks that’s a daft idea; it finally dropped its HIV testing requirements for immigrants earlier this year. Now South Korea has followed suit, sort of. The country will drop HIV testing for some, though it has announced […]

Everything you need to know about science writing (29/09/10)

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this wonderful pastiche of science writing. For a slightly more “scientific” view, there’s a paper in PLoS Med investigating whether trained science journalists are worth their salaries. Question: is Martin Robbins’ piece all the training we need?

Sticking it to crap research (23/08/10)

Because I run a course to help mid-career scientists get their papers published in peer-reviewed journals, I’m always on the look-out for really good papers, and for really bad ones. I also keep my eyes open for bad science reporting. It’s depressingly easy to find the latter, but it just got easier. Tom Scott has […]

Data sharing: soon to be yesterday’s news? (13/08/10)

The New York Times is a bit of a supertanker; it takes a while to get going on a subject. So by the time they run a drum-rolling front page story about some world-changing trend, you can be pretty sure that the trend is close to becoming the new status quo. I’m hoping that’s true […]

Outing the nerd: let’s share data (11/06/10)

I have a confession. Behind all the sex and drugs talk, I’m just a giant data nerd. I believe that health research data collected with taxpayers’ money should be used to improve lives, not just to improve the career of a couple of scientists who got the research grant. And we’d improve lives faster if […]

The “HIV’s a pain” theory of prevention: can it work? (05/04/10)

So gay guys go on having unprotected sex after they are diagnosed with HIV, a new descriptive study of gay poz guys at a clinic in Boston tells us. Nothing new there, although it’s sobering to be reminded that one in two of the men who know they have HIV choose to bareback with someone […]

My TED favourite: the morality of science (24/03/10)

I was lucky enough to go to the TED conference in California last month. Many of the better talks are already on line. My own favourite was Sam Harris on the subject of science and morality. I may have liked it because it was squeezed in that stomach-churning moment between my breakfast with local cops […]

Tired of feminism; saved by fruit flies (22/03/10)

Last Friday, I went to a deeply depressing “is feminism dead” type discussion. The normally male bastion of Prospect Magazine rang with the sound of high heels, and… Oh, wait, most of the people there were feminists. Scratch the high heels, then. Yes, yes, I’m playing to completely unjustified sterotypes. Except that they are not […]

“Test and treat” won’t beat HIV, says the witch (24/02/10)

Can we treat our way out of the HIV epidemic? Yesterday I wrote a piece in The Guardian suggesting that the “Test and Treat” approach was a triumph of optinism over common sense. Today, I am a homophobe, a media slut, a cherry-picker of data and over 120 other things, mostly nasty. My favourite, gloriously […]

Getting your Dx in a twist (04/02/10)

Remember the fabulous singing Nobel prize winner? Now PCR ads are getting sexy again. Though I do have to wonder how may pints the founders of TwistDx had had when they registered their company name. Try saying it out loud even before a pint… Thanks to Seif, who has yet to take me shoe shopping…

Is CDC’s HIV prevention trial in Thailand ethical? (24/01/10)

How ethical are HIV prevention trials? Every time we announce results of a trial that compares new HIV infections in a group with or without some new intervention (a microbicide for example, or a vaccine), some journalist or other jumps on the fact that researchers are just watching people get infected. Researchers then explain that […]

Microbicides don’t work. Now what? (14/12/09)

Not wanting to be always the purveyor of bad news, I was looking forward to today’s results from the Pro2000 microbicide studies. After hopeful results in an earlier trial, I’d convinced myself the gel would prevent HIV.

Testing America’s common sense (11/12/09)

Finally, some common sense in HIV testing policy in the US. Although you’d be hard pressed to know it from some of the coverage. Until last Monday, America’s unfathomably illogical health service for the properly poor, Medicaid, refused to pay for HIV testing just as it refuses to pay for all sorts of other screening […]

A kiss is just a kiss, except in Bollywood (08/12/09)

At breakfast in Bangalore this morning, I was greeted by news of Bollywood’s first on-screen gay kiss. When they’re puckerd up like this, wouldn’t you want to? But the Indian censors may not share my enthusiasm. I am Omar will be screening at the Rotterdam film festival. Check it out and see if the kiss […]

Drug Warriors: blind or just innumerate? (08/11/09)

As promised, a note on the UK’s latest data on HIV among drug injectors. Some of the US’s battalions of Drug Warriors have been crowing that the new figures show a rise in infection rates among junkies in the UK: clear evidence that the nation’s policy of making sterile needles and injecting equipment available to […]

As one HIV ban ends, another morphs (03/11/09)

Yesterday the US finally dropped its absolutely senseless law forbidding people with HIV from visiting the Land of the Free. (While Saint Obama is getting patted on the back for ending the ban, he was actually signing off on something that George Bush put in motion last year). That’s unmitigated good news for people with […]

HIV vaccines: good news or bad? (28/10/09)

A month ago, the media got very excited about an HIV vaccine. Study results, released in Thailand with a maximum of fuss and a minimum of detail, showed that the two-step vaccine might protect about a third of the people who get the shots against HIV. Then the doom-mongers weighed in: without more information, we […]

HIV vaccines: the ecstasy and the agony (25/09/09)

How excited should we be about the results of the HIV vaccine trial in Thailand? I argued in The Times today that the results are the worst type of good news. The combination vaccine is good enough to raise real hopes that we can find something that works. After the gloom of last year, that’s […]

Getting to the bottom of HIV’s silly season (28/07/09)

It’s usually safe to take time off in July to move house — in a previous existence in the newroom we used to call the European summer the “silly season”. In the weeks I’ve been painting walls, unpacking boxes and not blogging, we’ve had some HIV silliness, but some good sense too. The IAS conference […]

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