The OraQuick Test and HIV Screening

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a revolutionary new over-the-counter HIV test. The OraQuick Test, designed by OraSure Technologies, is expected to go on sale in the US within the next few months with a price tag of less than $60 (£38). The test is a simple saliva check that requires the user to take an oral swab and can produce results within 20-40 minutes. Previous over-the-counter tests have included blood tests whereby users have had to prick their finger in order to obtain a sample.

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Odd Statistical Snippet of the week: Voltaire and the statistician who won the lottery and proved that the earth is not round

I was listening with half an ear (as one does) to Melvyn Bragg’s academic-intellectual-historical-philosophical-scientific educate-us-all-in-things-that-every-civilised-person-ought-to-know-but-probably-doesn’t programme on Radio Four yesterday, (and I think it is wonderful by the way). It was on Voltaire (1694-1778 as Melvyn was careful to inform us); and one of the experts gave us a little throwaway remark. ‘Voltaire became rich early in life by teaming up with a statistician to win the French national lottery.’ That was it.

Napoleon's Russian Campaign - 200 years on

Historians this year will commemorate the bicentenary of Napoleon’s campaign in Russia in the War of the Empires. On June 24, 1812, he crossed the Russian frontier with 422,000 men.More than half of them were either conscripts or mercenaries from twenty nationalities across Europe. Of these, 95,000 came from the Grand Duchy of Warsaw.

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Burma: How poor? How repressive?

David Cameron has just returned from Burma, or Myanmar, the first-ever visit by a British Prime Minister. Burma is one of the most repressed states in the world. It is also one of the poorest. Do these two facts have anything to do with each other? The degree of repression may be easing. What of the degree of poverty?

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Titanic: did 'women and children first' cost lives?

‘Women and Children First!’ Alexander James Littlejohn was neither a woman nor a child, but he survived the sinking of the Titanic. There were two reasons for that. He went to the starboard side of the ship, not to the port side; and he was a steward.

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