Hot topics in health: New smartphone attachment changing how we diagnose HIV

Hot topics in health: New smartphone attachment changing how we diagnose HIV

Mobile phones have transformed the nature of communication and the spread of information. Communication based industries, like marketing and PR, must keep up with the times and work with mobile technologies to advance their goals and facilitate a stronger relationship with the public.

 

The latest effort to utilize modern society’s attachment to mobile technology, though, comes not in the field of communication, but medicine.

 

The smartphone attachment tests for HIV and syphilis through a blood test (pbs.org)

The smartphone attachment tests for HIV and syphilis through a blood test which then transmits data directly to your phone (pbs.org)

A team of researchers from the Columbia University have combined mobile technology and modern medicine in a novel way by creating a new smartphone attachment that can test for HIV and syphilis in as little as 15 minutes.

 

The attachable dongle works by using a finger-prick of blood to test for three different infectious disease markers. The results of the test are on par with a laboratory-quality immunoassay, according to head researcher and associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, Samuel K. Sia.

 

Beyond the impressive quality of the test, the smartphone attachment is low-cost (each dongle has a manufacturing cost of about $34), extremely durable, requires little user training, and does not require a lot of power to run. In fact, it runs entirely on a phone’s battery via the headphone jack of the phone, which supplies the attachment with power and allows for data transmission.

 

This innovation possesses a wealth of promise regarding the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of life-threatening diseases, particularly in the developing world. In many developing African nations, the mobile technology industry has continued growing tremendously over the past few years. Meanwhile, health services and medical infrastructure are still largely lacking in many regions.


A device like this attachable dongle takes advantage of a societal trend — the growth and prevalence of mobile phone usage — to create a medical approach that is all at once effective, viable, and relevant.

 

How do you think this new technology will change things on the medical stage around the world? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi

Tamara Rahoumi

Tamara Rahoumi is a third-culture kid of Egyptian descent who was born and raised in New Jersey. She loves experiencing new things, and is in a constant state of wanderlust. She has spent a year studying in Switzerland and another teaching in Albania. Tamara graduated from Rutgers University, where she studied political science and cultural anthropology. She reports on a variety of stories for MUIPR. Follow Tamara on twitter @tamarahoumi.

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