May 6th, 2018

Looking Back on a Decade of Blogging About HIV and Infectious Diseases

Last week, Dr. Wendy Armstrong from Emory kindly invited me to spend some time with their smart, energetic ID fellows.

(See if you can pick me out of the group in the photo at right — hint, I’m the old guy on the left.)

Before the trip, Wendy asked them whether they’d rather hear me give a talk entitled “Evolution of Antiretroviral Therapy” — or alternatively, something about writing this blog, which has just celebrated its 10th Birthday (see colorful banner above).

The email I got back from her was unambiguous:

100% chose the blog.

Although their decision might be viewed as a dismissive of my command of HIV treatment (never!), the good news is that giving this talk gave me a chance to reflect on the 10 years of the blog’s existence.

Before going through the data unearthed by our crack team of research scientists, a little bit about its beginnings. Inspired in the late 2000s by the writing that exploded on the internet about everything, I pitched something similar to the folks at NEJM Journal Watch

It would be about ID, HIV, and whatever else happened to be swimming around in my head on any given day I had time to write something. That was it.

Fortunately, they said yes — thank you! I am also grateful to the community of readers who show up here regularly, interact in the comments section or on Twitter, and teach me (and other readers) so much.

Let’s move on to the data, all of it 100% verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization:

We’re collaborative and hard-working clinicians.

Of course there have been challenges. Finding good copyright-free images is always tricky. Who wants a frivolous lawsuit because we happened to use a cherished (and legally protected) picture?

This concern explains the 100% legal but strangely artificial stock images that show up here periodically — which I enjoy mocking whenever possible.

Probably the most common question I get asked by colleagues is “Why do you do that?” Usually I answer with a superficial, “Because it’s fun,” but on further thought, it’s more than that.

As you know, most academic writing is quite formal. The writing one does for research papers in particular must include the perspectives of multiple co-authors.

Then, once the journal gets it, it’s further edited to suit their style. By the time of publication, the original text reads like it’s been through a powerful prose homogenizer machine — everyone sounds the same.

Here I can say whatever I like (within reason), include jokes and funny images and videos, and actually sound like myself. It’s a great privilege, and a true joy.

So to Matt O’Rourke, Catherine Ryan, Kristin Kelley, Amy Herman, Kelly Young, and Bob Dall — all at NEJM Journal Watch — I thank you again.

And here’s my latest sports discovery, Flyball.  Hey, what a perfect name!

15 Responses to “Looking Back on a Decade of Blogging About HIV and Infectious Diseases”

  1. Matthew O'Rourke says:

    Paul, being associated in any way (even with so little justification) with such great writing and analysis is a real honor. Still one of my favorite reads.

  2. Carrie says:

    Sax, Bugs, and Drugs… I love that!

  3. Louie Katz says:

    I’ve been saying “no one ever got rich by looking at gram stains” since I was a fellow in the late ’70s.


  4. Loretta S says:

    I am surprised my all-time favorite post, “How to Figure Out the Length of Antibiotic Therapy”, from 10/22/2010, did not make the list of most-viewed. I love sending my nurse practitioner students to that post when they ask me how long a certain antibiotic should be taken. 🙂

    • Paul Sax says:

      I refer to that one all the time, especially now that we’re getting away from antibiotic “courses”!

  5. John Cascone says:

    Well done sir. Thank you!

  6. Deborah Cotton says:

    Congratulations Paul!

  7. MN MD says:

    Should your commitments to baseball or canines ever take you briefly away from the blog, Dr. Wendy Armstrong would be an admirable proxy.

  8. Jen says:

    I’d like to say that in our defense (the Emory ID fellows), we would have loved to hear about the evolution of HIV therapy too, but as fans of your blog thought this was an opportunity to hear about how to be successful doing something you love AND that is somewhat non-traditional in the academic world 🙂

  9. More white coats please!

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HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

Biography | Disclosures | Summaries

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