Smartphones May Help Diagnose HIV Faster And Cheaper

Smartphones May Help Diagnose HIV Faster And Cheaper


A new smartphone technology that mimics a laboratory blood tests can detect HIV and syphilis faster and cheaper than other equipment, according to biomedical engineers at Columbia University, Reuters reports.

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But the new technology, known as lab-on-a-chip, could make the tests more accessible to many more people, VoiceOfAmerica reports.

The smartphone attachment, known as a dongle, will be able to perform blood tests for three different infectious diseases — including HIV, syphilis, and active syphilis infection — within 15 minutes.

The attachment connects to a smartphone or computer and was recently tested on 96 patients in Rwanda who were enrolling at prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission clinics, MedicalDaily reports.

The attachment has low power consumption — important in remote areas in developing countries without 24/7 electricity. The device can use audio jacks for power.

But the most important part, according to MedicalDaily, is that the device is much cheaper than typical enzyme-linked immune assay (ELISA) equipment used in a lab to test for antibodies in the blood. The smartphone attachment will be able to do the same for HIV, syphilis, and other sexually transmitted diseases, and it will cost about $34 compared to $18,450, its inventors say.