I'm too sick at the moment to start my own blog, and even if I had one I wouldn't be able to say what I'd really like to the way I'd like to. But in light of months of following the scientific (and anti-scientific) developments in the XMRV story, and given that it is XMRV Blog Week, I feel the need to say something. So here it is.
I don't know for certain whether XMRV and any related MRVs cause ME/CFS, or are co-causes or co-factors, but neither does any other scientist. I don't know what role it plays in ME/CFS, but neither does any other scientist.
I know this: I will not spend the rest of my life sick or die young because some researchers and research journals made a political decision to "close the door" on the MRV-CFS association before it was appropriately investigated. I want a true replication study NOW.
I want 'science' journals to stop publishing negative studies by authors who haven't used clinically validated assays to detect XMRV. I want 'scientists' to stop claiming that non-replication studies ARE replication studies. I want any researcher, journal editor, or 'science blogger' who claims that true replication isn't necessary in science to be forced to seek alternative forms of employment. I want an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services into why the NIH's tiny CFS grant review panel has turned down a series of grant applications by the WPI.
I want at least one sliver of justice for millions of sick people who have had none. If nothing else, we should have the benefit of supposedly dispassionate, objective science. We were raised to believe that science is the backbone of modern civilization, and the last pure thing left in a world rife with politics. If we cannot even get THAT without political interference, then even the highest court of appeal is corrupt.
For well over two decades we have trusted that, at some point, the system that was ostensibly built for us will finally work in our favor. At what point do we decide as a community that it clearly will not? And at what point will we protest en masse that our rights as citizens and as human beings are being denied by medical, "healthcare", political, and scientific establishments?
The most blatant recent example, and the most immediately crucial issue, is the organized attempt to bury XMRV-CFS research. With whatever energy we have, we need to fight to stop that from happening. NOW. We need to let those who would bury it, or let it be buried, know that we will not tolerate this. We need to let 'advocacy' organizations know that they should either support us in this endeavor or stop posing as advocates and get the hell out of the way. We need to strategize ways that we as patients and their carers can have a real impact on the scientific institutions and policy-makers that are normally walled off from us, and on the media that increasingly serves only as a mouthpiece for the 'official sources' with the best media connections. If the high-profile discovery of a potentially pathogenic gammaretrovirus that may infect at least 4% of the population can be whitewashed from the memory of science and history, so can - and will - that of any other pathogen, be it HHV-6, Lyme, or anything else. This isn't just an issue for people who support the XMRV hypothesis - it is an issue for everyone who wants good science to be done on this disease, now or ever.