Just don't say cure until you mean it


Not only are doctors at Mayo Clinic proceeding with caution after the story broke that a doctor in Germany may or may not have impacted a patient's battle with AIDS, local health blogger Gary Schwitzer at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism is cringing at the press's coverage of the issue.

"You can split hairs all you want about what the Associated Press actually reported about an American living in Germany who was treated with a bone marrow transplant for his leukemia....But these words were used: "Doctors say marrow transplant may have cured AIDS." "...appears to have been cured of the disease...." "...he no longer shows signs of carrying the virus..." Despite some caveats in the story, one can question why the AP reported this story at all."

In his blog Schwitzer remembers a similar incident that happened while he was working as the head of the medical news department at CNN, that was a significant factor in his departure from the industry.

Perhaps no one remembers as vividly as I do how CNN reported on a hyperthermia "cure" for AIDS back in 1990. ...[K]ey people at the network went behind my back, then spurned my advice, and reported this "cure." It didn't take much and it didn't take long for the facts to show how foolish and how inappropriate that reporting was.