A USB HIV stick developed by scientists in Britain could expedite the testing process and tell how much of the virus is in a person's blood.
The device was created by scientists at Imperial College London along with researchers at the U.S.-based DNA Electronics, Reuters reported. It “uses a drop of blood to detect HIV, then creates an electrical signal that can be read by a computer, laptop, or handheld device," the wire agency noted.
According to researchers, this new technology will help patients monitor their virus levels the same way those with diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels.
The new USB HIV stick test is said to also be good for patients who may need to manage their treatment remotely.
“Monitoring viral load is crucial to the success of HIV treatment. At the moment, testing often requires costly and complex equipment that can take a couple of days to produce a result,” Graham Cooke, who co-led the research for the Imperial’s Department of Medicine, told Reuters.
“We have taken the job done by this equipment, which is the size of a large photocopier, and shrunk it down to a USB chip.”
According to the journal Scientific Reports, the research for this new HIV test is still in its early stages, so it’s not yet available to consumers.
However, according to The Washington Post, the research has been successful thus far. In fact, in 991 blood samples, the USB HIV test was able to determine the amount of virus in those samples with an accuracy rate of 95 percent.
Today’s HIV tests are expensive and usually patients aren’t able to get their results back for a few days, but the new tests are producing results in as little as 20 minutes.
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