Main | Monday, January 21, 2008

UCSF Apologizes For MRSA Report

UCSF has apologized for the interpretation of their just-released MRSA study, saying that the study's "medical jargon" caused the press and general public to misinterpret their findings. Right-wing and Christianist groups lept on the UCSF study, issuing statements about the "inherent unhealthiness" of gay sex.
"We deplore negative targeting of specific populations in association with MRSA infections or other public health concerns,” it concluded. Dr. Henry Chambers, one of the report’s authors and a professor of medicine at the university, said he was surprised by how the report had been spun.

“I think we were looking at this from a scientific point of view and not projecting any political impact,” he said. “We were focusing on the data. You want to make sure it’s as right as possible and written up in a form that reviewers would understand what you’re trying to say, and do it in a clear manner so it’s not subject to misinterpretation. Which is what happened later, it appears.”

One of the major sore points for some critics was a quote attributed to the report’s lead author, Bien Diep, a researcher who said he was concerned about “a potential spread of this strain into the general population.”

Mr. Diep, 29, said on Friday he regretted not being more thorough in communicating his research to reporters. He said that the term “general population” was part of medical jargon used in the report, which did not translate well.

“It’s really meant to be used to mean all inclusive, including the men-who-have-sex-with-men population,” he said.
While I'm happy to see the clarification, it also sounds like UCSF is doing some PC duck-and-cover. While MRSA does indeed strike the general population, the fact that gay men appear to be much more at risk is a valuable message, even if it does provide hate ammo to our enemies.

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