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A New HIV Test Is Now In USB Stick Form

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A revolutionary HIV testing tool is out – and in true 21st century form, it’s on a USB stick.

Researchers from the Imperial College London partnered with DNA Electronics to create a USB stick that uses a drop of blood to test for HIV. The little device then transforms the results into an electrical signal that a computer or mobile device can read, Tech Times reports.

According to tests and the scientists’ findings, the disposable HIV test is able to accurately detect how much of the virus is present in a person’s bloodstream, and can churn out results in as little as 30 minutes.

The USB stick format has plenty of benefits. Aside from being small, handy and convenient, it’s a tool that allows HIV patients to monitor their condition on the go. It can also be used to manage HIV cases in far-off locations efficiently, and presents a potentially more effective way of gathering global data on the virus.

Current tests take a minimum of three days just to check how much of the HIV is present in a sample, because samples need to be processed in laboratories. Additional tests confirm the presence of the virus, but don’t determine how much of it is present, which can tell a patient if treatments are working.

According to the World Health Organization, at least 2 million people signed up for anti-retroviral treatment programs in 2015. The average number of HIV patients who received treatments in the same year was 46%.

The new USB test requires only a small blood sample to work. The sample is placed on a specific spot on the USB, which uses a mobile phone chip to trigger an acidity change if HIV is present. This change is converted into an electrical signal, which the USB receives and translates to a computer program.

The researchers testes 991 blood samples in developing the tool, and got an accuracy rate of 95%. The average time it took for results to show was 20.8 minutes, according to the study.

Now, the same team is looking at other uses for the USB testing tool, such as in detecting other viruses like hepatitis. DNA Electronics, a spinout company of Imperial College London, is already working to develop the test for bacterial sepsis, fungal infections and antibiotic resistance.

The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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