HIV needs no introduction. It’s a particularly evil and nasty fellow ever determined to grind you down and make your journey on this earth as short and miserable as possible. Well, the ceaseless fight against it just got another new weapon in its rather formidable arsenal. And wait for it. It’s on a USB stick, not in a hypodermic syringe or bitter swallowable tablets.
A brilliantly inventive research team from the Imperial College London partnered with DNA Electronics to develop the USB gizmology that might conceivably truly revolutionize the fight. It merely requires a blood sample to be placed on a mobile phone chip on the device, which will subsequently trigger an acidity change if HIV is detected. The acidity change is then transformed to an electrical signal which is sent to the device. The electrical signal is then read by a program on a computer, laptop or some other hand-held device.
The device can additionally determine the viral load of any blood sample placed on it. Thereby enabling the determination of the effectiveness or otherwise of antiretroviral medication being taken by patients and permitting their tweaking when necessary for optimum effectiveness, This technology promises incredibly speedy, portable, efficient and efficacious treatment for the masses who lack ready access to cutting-edge tech to manage their infection, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The new-fangled and highly welcome method currently has an accuracy rate of 95% and takes a little over 20 minutes to complete. Compare that with the current HIV laboratory tests that takes three days or more, require lots of trained professionals and a well-equipped laboratory to boot. The technology behind the device is additionally being tested in the fight against hepatitis and other diseases.
Now, if only the solution to the rest of the world’s problem could also come in the form of a USB stick or even a stick of kebab!