A new diagnostic test for HIV has been developed and can tell whether you are HIV positive within a few minutes. The ‘mChip’, developed by scientists at the University of Columbia in New York and currently produced in the U.S, costs under one pound sterling to make and tests to near 100% accuracy. The lead researcher on the device, Professor Samuel Sia said: ‘The idea is to make a large class of diagnostic tests accessible to patients in any setting in the world, rather than forcing them to go to a clinic to draw blood and then wait days for their results.’
Studies of the diagnostic device were carried out in the town of Kigali, Rwanda, where hundreds of people suspected of carrying the Aids virus were tested. Results showed there was a 95 per cent accuracy for HIV and 76 per cent for syphilis. The device works by taking a tiny pin prick of blood which then passes through ten zones of detection using optics to capture the results. The mChip then gives a positive or negative result depending on what has been detected in about fifteen minutes. Results are shown colour coded, a little like a standard pregnancy test.
Typically blood would have to be sent to a laboratory and diagnostic results would take a matter of days if not weeks to receive the results. Now aid workers can carry the portable devices around with them and carry out the tests on site in Third World countries or where Aids is rife. The mChip is also a cheaper alternative way of diagnosing HIV sufferers as blood that is sent to a laboratory is more expensive and the use of this method on a wide scale has been deemed unworkable. Therefore the mChip’s low cost and efficiency has been hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against HIV in the developing world.