Monday, September 25, 2006

Irritating the CDC

Hehehehehehe Okay, Creationists always like to complain about how those meany scientists are peeeeeeeeeersecuting them. They have all this awesome evidence that not only PROVES their creationism myth is true, but ergo PROVES their god exists! But those EVILutionists wont let them publish their research! Well, ignoring the fact that they don’t, you know, do any research—how does the scientific community deal with ideas that go against the grain?

There is only one question we ask when hearing an ‘alternative’ idea—Where’s your research? Bad news for the Creationists, but good news for people who have discovered something interesting. You can use your research to convince others you are right, and they can review your work—maybe even go on to use your research as a foundation for more novel research of their own. Eventually, your ‘alternative’ idea can become mainstream! Hell, you may even win a Nobel!

But as we learn in Mooney’s ‘Republican War on Science’—the scientific community and governmental ‘scientific’ organizations don’t always see eye to eye. That brings us to todays paper:

Factors Associated with HIV Prevalence in a Pre-Partum Cohort of Zambian Women

The cohort Im working with is in Zambia too. What Ive learned over the past 3 years is that most women are infected through heterosexual contact. Their husbands run off to whores, get infected, come home, infect their wives. That’s even been the basis of some research, trying to explain why HIV Subtype C has outcompeted other subtypes, despite its lack of virulence in a Petri dish. Somehow, Subtype C has evolved to be the most efficient transmitter through heterosexual contact (example)

But this paper found something… different:

Even after accounting for the proportion of HIV infections associated with the domains listed above ( Demographics, Sexual behaviour, Alcohol and substance use, Cultural practices, STDs), medical injections emerged as the single most powerful predictor of HIV seropositivity.

Their idea isn’t totally new, which they mention in the intro. Gisselquist published several papers that reached a similar conclusion, but his analyses were all theoretical mathematical models. The authors of this paper simply did a retrospective study with data they collected for other reasons (KSHV transmission patterns). And they got evidence to support the claim that HIV transmission through contaminated needles in hospitals is gravely underestimated in Zambia, and probably all of Africa.

Well, great! Now we know another place to focus our efforts to prevent new infections, right? Hehehe Nope! *Word has it* the CDC is pissed at this paper because it makes them look stupid. The CDC hadn’t focused on this issue, and they should have. It’s not exactly a shocking conclusion. But, whether the CDC liked it or not, the paper got published. This was just a little battle in the War on Science, but it’s a victory none the less.


sidethorn said...

Word has it? Who is speaking this word? From where? Works Cited? Links? PR Statements? Data?

Better not tell MMIS that the CDC didn't focus on needles in Africa.

"You have to look at the data objectively—regardless of how much you might like or dislike an idea."

ERV said...

Im not exactly sure what you mean in your comment, sidethorn? Do you dispute that medical injections have been underestimated as sources for subtype C infections?

We know medical injections have been the source of HIV infections in the past (and currently), and ebola, and hepatitis-- but for some reason the impact of medical injections has been downplayed for subtype C transmission.