Smart phones to Conduct HIV Tests

Developers of a new low cost mobile lab device, have come up with a new app that can turn any smartphone into an HIV and syphilis tester, with the hope that it could be a life-changer for HIV patients in remote parts of the world.

The developers say it only takes a drop of blood and fifteen minutes, then the blood sample is placed on a plastic collector which is inserted into the the user’s smartphone. The user then launches the app and pushes down a button to release the reagents needed for the test.

Sam Sia, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University, US, leading the work said, “It’s really a matter of life and death, because for most of these patients, who simply cannot travel the distances to testing clinics to get their blood drawn and get the results, means that they’re not treated for these conditions. In specific cases, pregnant women, if they’re not treated for HIV or syphilis, will pass these diseases on to their new-borns and a lot of times they aren’t even born alive.”

Therefore, research carried out on around 100 patients , including women who were at risk of passing on sexually transmitted diseases to their unborn children, showed it to be almost as accurate as regular laboratory test

“Eventually the device can also test for other STDs and as long as these diseases can be diagnosed using a class of blood tests called ELISA tests, then we can replicate.This doesn’t cover everything but it does cover a wide range of conditions. Technology like this certainly has the potential to transform the healthcare system,” says Sam Sia.

Researchers are planning a larger-scale clinical trial and hope to win approval by the World Health Organisation for use in developing countries.

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