Science has ushered in a new era in the fight against HIV/AIDS abroad, now that researchers claim to have built an inexpensive smartphone add-on device that detects HIV antibodies and syphilis.
According to Samuel Sia, associate professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University and lead scientist of the team that developed the new technology, the device accurately performs all the functions of a lab-based blood test in as little as 15 minutes using power drawn from a smartphone.
The $34 device, which Sia believes can decrease syphilis deaths in Africa by tenfold, is an effective alternative to current diagnostic equipment that can cost up to $18,000. Engadget also notes that labs currently don’t even offer tests that detect both HIV antibodies and syphilis in one format.
After the device was tested using the finger-prick method by health care workers in Rwanda, it accurately identified disease with a success rate of 92 to 100 percent.
It also incorrectly identified some patients as infected when they weren’t, which is something the team at Columbia University is working to fix before testing the gadget on a larger trial group.
You can see the device in action below: