With advance in science, the possibilities are endless, as you can now detect HIV levels using a USB stick to measure the levels of the virus in a patient’s blood. With over 95 percent levels of accuracy and taking less than 30 minutes, to get results, this could be a more handy way of checking your HIV status.
Currently in order to get to know your status, patients have to send samples of their blood to a lab. This can take a few days or hours to get to know the results. According to a study published this week in Scientific Reports, researchers from both Imperial College London and tech company DNA Electronics created a tiny device that essentially duplicates the testing procedure more accurately.
How does this ‘USB HIV tester’ work?
You need to put a drop of blood on the USB stick. The blood sample will change the acidity levels of the metal in the USB. A chip inside the USB notes the change in acidity and turns this into an electrical signal. It can then be connected to a computer or other hand-held device, where the researcher can read out the result. Test carried out so far show that the scientists were able to test over 991 blood samples and give out results in an average of 21 minutes per sample.
This improved HIV testing technology is currently not available on the market, but it could lead to a big improvements when it does. The USB is easy-to-use and disposable, which means that it can be used to administer HIV tests in more rural or inaccessible areas especially Africa where clinic are scares. Since the procedure is very simple HIV patients can also measure their own levels of HIV (CD4) to ensure that their prescribed drugs are working.