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Rubbery figures?

Posted by plosmedicine on 30 Mar 2009 at 23:47 GMT

Author: Michael Glass
Position: Teacher
Institution: Department of Education & Training, NSW Australia
Submitted Date: October 29, 2005
Published Date: November 2, 2005
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

Dear Editor:

I have been following reports of this study and have found four different figures for seroconversions.

The Abstract of the AIDS Conference in Rio reported 15 seroconversions from the circumcised group and 45 seroconversions in the uncircumcised group.

The New Scientist, 6 August, reported 15 seroconversions in the circumcised group but 51 in the uncircumcised group.

On 29 July the Science and Development Network reported 18 seroconversions in the circumcised group and 51 in the uncircumcised group.

Finally, on 23 October, PLOS reported that there were 20 seroconversions in the circumcised group and 49 in the uncircumcised group.

It seems passing strange that the figures should be so much at variance.

But if we just go from the official figures: 15-45 at the AIDS Conference in Brazil and 20-49 in the PLOS Journal, between 1 August and 23 October it would appear that there have been 4 seroconversions among the uncircumcised and 5 seroconversions among the circumcised. In less than 3 months, a 3:1 difference has shrunk to 2.45:1 difference.

Why are the numbers of seroconversions so much at variance in reports published by reputable journals?

Yours sincerely,

Michael Glass

No competing interests declared.