A low-cost mobile device that performs HIV testing by just a finger prick and has the ability to synchronize patients’ results with electronic health records in real time has been created.
The gadget operates by capturing essential functions of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, the most commonly used laboratory diagnostic for HIV. It is also said to be able to perform laboratory-quality HIV testing in 15 minutes using finger-pricked whole blood.
Dr. Nader Rifai, editor in chief of Clinical Chemistry, states: “This is a perfect example of how ingenuity and good science can effectively address a real and serious medical problem.”
It is reported that there are over 34 million HIV infected people worldwide, and 68 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, with South and Southeast Asia having the second largest proportion.
Most of the infected people live in remote parts of the world, where access to treatment without travelling to centralized healthcare centers is almost impossible.
This, coupled up with the harsh economic burden on poor countries, has also continued to worsen the situation. HIV has created 16.6 million AIDS orphans worldwide, and its estimated that these countries lose 1.5 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to treatment of this pandemic.
The device is expected to help combat HIV prevalence in the world, by enabling prompt diagnosis and treatment of the infected people, hence reducing the economic losses related to the disease.
According to the developers of the device, this will be achieved as the device detects weekly positive samples, and uses cellphone and satellite networks to automatically synchronize test results with patient health records from anywhere in the world.
This will allow policy makers and medical practitioners to monitor the situation as well as to know how to effectively allocate medicine and patient care resources in the countries.