Statistical Impropriety and the Press

It seems quite interesting to me that the press is zeroing in on a new Oral HIV test that apparently is reporting false positive results (read more here at According to a radio broadcast in the greater Washington, DC area reported that the oral test was greater than 99.5% positive. The fact that forty seven people tested had indications that were false positives apparently is too great a number of people. Based on the fact that there are approximately 776,733 people in the San Francisco area according to the US Census 2000, of which 543,278 are between the ages of 20 and 65 years most likely two-thirds to three quarters of which may be sexually active. For statistical purposes, we’ll just say that 1% of those persons are engaging in risky business (5,733). Then of that group, you would expect if all of them took the oral test that 5,405 would test correctly. That leaves a remaining 328 that should have false positives or false negatives.
Is it just me or is the press blowing this out of proportion? Out of every 1,000 people that use the test there is the likely hood to have about 10 persons have false test results returned. Is this too great a percentage for the press to handle?

Now playing You’re So Damn Hot by Ok Go

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s