HIV Test Via Laptop – Newsmax
British researchers have developed an HIV test that can plug into your laptop or smartphone like a USB memory stick.
The device, created by scientists at Imperial College London and DNA Electronics, uses a drop of blood to detect HIV, and then creates an electrical signal that can be read by a computer, laptop, or handheld device.
In addition to enabling HIV patients to monitor their own treatment, the disposable test could allow patients in remote locations to be monitored more effectively.
The device, according to an article published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows the device is very accurate and can deliver results in under 30 minutes.
The new technology monitors the amount of virus in the bloodstream, which is crucial to monitoring a patient’s treatment.
Current tests to detect the amount of virus take at least three days, often longer, and involve sending a blood sample to a laboratory. In many parts of the world, particularly those with the highest number of HIV infections, such testing does not exist at all.
The current treatment for HIV, called anti-retroviral treatment, reduces virus levels to near zero.
However, in some cases the medication may stop working, perhaps because the HIV virus has developed resistance to the drugs. The first indication of this would be a rise in virus levels in the bloodstream.
Viral levels cannot be detected by routine HIV tests, which use antibodies, as these can only tell whether a person has been infected.
“Monitoring viral load is crucial to the success of HIV treatment,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Graham Cooke. “At the moment, testing often requires costly and complex equipment that can take a couple of days to produce a result. We have taken the job done by this equipment, which is the size of a large photocopier, and shrunk it down to a USB chip.”
The device, which uses a mobile phone chip, just needs a small sample of blood. This is placed onto a spot on the USB stick. If any HIV virus is present in the sample, this triggers a change in acidity which the chip transforms into an electrical signal. This is sent to the USB stick, which produces the result in a program on a computer or electronic device.
In the latest research, the technology tested blood samples with 95 per cent accuracy. The average time to produce a result was 20.8 minutes.
Dr. Cooke added that this technology, although in the early stages, could allow patients to regularly monitor their virus levels in much the same way that people with diabetes check their blood sugar levels.