New cell phone-based tool to detect HIV

Boston: Scientists have designed a portable and low-cost diagnostic tool, utilising a cell phone and nanotechnology, which can detect HIV and monitor its management in resource-limited regions. Management of human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV), a disorder that cripples the immune system by attacking healthy cells, remains a major global health challenge in developing countries that lack infrastructure and trained medical professionals.

“Early detection of HIV is critical to prevent disease progression and transmission, and it requires long-term monitoring, which can be a burden for families that have to travel to reach a clinic or hospital,” said Hadi Shafiee from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US. “This rapid and low-cost cell phone system represents a new method for detecting acute infection, which would reduce the risk of virus transmission and could also be used to detect early treatment failure,” Shafiee said.

Traditional virus monitoring methods for HIV are expensive, requiring the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), according to the study published in the journal Nature Communications. Shafiee and his colleagues designed an affordable, simple tool that makes HIV testing and monitoring possible for individuals in developing countries with less access to medical care. —PTI

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