It has also created 16.6 million AIDS orphans – children who have lost one or both parents to the disease.
In the study, a team including Curtis D. Chin and Yuk Kee Cheung designed a device that captures all the essential functions of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, the most commonly used laboratory diagnostic for HIV. The authors show that the device performs laboratory-quality HIV testing in 15 minutes using finger-pricked whole blood.
The device also detects weakly positive samples, and uses cellphone and satellite networks to automatically synchronize test results with patient health records from anywhere in the world. Because of this real-time data upload, this mobile device will allow policymakers and epidemiologists to monitor disease prevalence across geographical regions quickly and effectively. This could improve effectiveness in allocating medications to different communities, and patient care in general, the researchers say.
“This is a perfect example of how ingenuity and good science can effectively address a real and serious medical problem,” says Nader Rifai, editor in chief of Clinical Chemistry.