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Accuracy of a point-of-care test for hCG

Point-of-care testing (POCT), performed at or near the site of patient care, is now available for early quantitative measurement of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels. Could this help exclude ectopic pregnancy at very early gestations, when ultrasound scanning cannot yet confirm that a pregnancy is intrauterine? For a group of 118 women presenting to an abortion service with pregnancies of unknown location (PUL), a POCT hCG test was performed using either urine or blood, and then compared with the gold standard of laboratory serum hCG levels. While both the blood and urine POCTs had a high level of specificity, Reynolds-Wright and colleagues found that neither POCT test was acceptably sensitive. Regrettably, therefore, these POCTs cannot currently be recommended as replacements for laboratory serum hCG testing as a safe way to exclude ectopic pregnancy.

Correlates of lifetime number of sexual partners in the over-50s

The number of sexual partners that a person has over their lifetime is an important correlate for sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk, as well as associated long-term health risks. While there are plentiful data on the correlates of younger people's number of sexual partners, few equivalent data have been available for older age groups. Smith and colleagues used data from almost 7000 participants aged ≥50 years as part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, to find sociodemographic and behavioural factors associated with a higher lifetime number of sexual partners. Understanding such correlates may help health practitioners to identify individuals at greatest risk of STIs across their life course. These findings could benefit practitioners who advise younger adults, and inform educational interventions which encourage safe sex practices among those most likely to have a higher number of sexual partners.

Age at first sex or age at first competent sex?

Western societies tends to focus on the age at which people ‘lose their virginity’, with scant attention paid to what makes that experience positive or negative for both …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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