Coming Soon to A Smart Phone Near You: HIV Testing?

Via Shutterstock.

Via Shutterstock.

Need STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing? In the future, there’ll be an app for that, or that’s the goal of Samuel Sia, a Columbia researcher who developed a $34 smart phone attachment that can test for HIV and syphilis. And guess what? The device worked almost as well as a $18,450 piece of testing equipment.

According to a report in Bloomberg Business, Sia, who tested the device in Rwanda, found that it correctly identified STIs 92 to 100 percent of the time. The article suggests that the $34 equipment was also well-received by the patients:

Almost all of the patients in the trial said they would prefer the dongle to a traditional lab test, because of the convenience and quick results. The dongle uses disposable plastic cassettes, and is small enough to fit in one hand.

To test for STIs, “A patient places his or her finger on a button that draws a pinprick of blood into the device. The blood is then analyzed for HIV and syphilis. The dongle displays the results on the smart device’s screen.”

Besides HIV and syphilis, Sia believes that a similar device could help idenfity outbreaks of other diseases, such as Ebola, and that the device could be mass-marketed to American consumers to track other health concerns, like diabetes.