Thanks to technology, a USB stick having 95% accuracy can now be used to measure the levels of HIV in a patient’s blood. This is a huge improvement over current tests especially since it takes less than 30 minutes to carry out.
Initially patients send fluids to a lab to test their HIV levels, and depending on the specific test, it can take several days or even weeks to get the requested results. Earlier this week, researchers from the Imperial College London and tech company DNA Electronics created a device which can be used to achieve this in less time.
From their report, when you put a drop of blood on the USB stick, it changes the acidity levels of the metal in the USB. A chip built inside the USB takes notes of the change in acidity and turns this into an electrical signal. This is then connected to a computer or other related device where the researcher can read out the result.
So far scientists tested 991 blood samples which was received the results in an average of 21 minutes, impressive right? Because of the simplicity of this process patients can learn to monitor their own levels of HIV so as to ensure their medication is working. Although this technology probably won’t make it to market soon, it definitely will be of great use when it eventually does.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus that causes HIV infection and over time acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. Without treatment, average survival time after infection with HIV is estimated to be 9 to 11 years, depending on the HIV subtype. Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, or breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells.