In the future, a disposable pen will help people know, in less than 30 minutes and in the comfort of your home, whether or not you have HIV.
A group of researchers from Imperial College London and technology company DNA Electronics has created a small device capable of analyzing blood viral load by detecting whether a person has HIV or whether a person with HIV has more or less levels of virus in the blood.
According to the researchers the device is able to detect the presence of the virus in a drop of blood – as in the ‘finger prick’ method that patients with diabetes do at home to control blood sugar levels – and generate a Signal that can be read thanks to the connection via USB.
The result can be known in about 30 minutes and reportedly The Verge has an accuracy rate of 95%. The scientists tested 991 blood samples and received the results in an average of 21 minutes.
To do the test put a drop of blood on the USB part of the pen. The blood will change the acidity levels of the metal in the USB and a chip inside the USB notes this change in acidity and turns it into an electrical signal. Then the device can be connected to a computer or other device where the user can read the result.
This fairly simple process can still be used by HIV patients to control their virus levels and make sure the medication is working.