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Smartphone Attachment Can Test For HIV In 15 Minutes 84

stephendavion writes A team of researchers from Columbia University have developed a device that can be plugged into a smartphone and used to quickly test for HIV and syphilis. The mobile device tests for three infectious disease markers in just 15 minutes by using a finger-prick of blood, and draws all the power it needs from the smartphone, Science Daily reports. The accessory costs an estimated $34 to make and is capable of replicating tests done in a laboratory using equipment that costs many thousands of dollars.
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Smartphone Attachment Can Test For HIV In 15 Minutes

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  • Says an evil pharma CEO....

  • by Rick in China ( 2934527 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @11:55AM (#48989865)

    Imagine if you can prick the finger of a hooker in a Pattaya bar while you're drinking, "just as a joke!", and figure out whether you need to strap on a condom or not. Wonderful invention for all the people who need immediate HIV tests for their partners! Yay for sex tourism!

    Until it goes wrong and doesn't work. This type of thing is a litigation nightmare. Looks like vaporware to me, and the actual legitimate applications seem few.

    • by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @12:05PM (#48989961) Journal

      Honestly I can see a lot of good uses for it. From testing in third world countries by Doctors without borders to testing a partner before you go without a condom. Most people get to know each other before they drop the condoms but how many actually go down and get tested? I know I do and I ask my partners to before we drop the condom but from most peoples reaction I can tell that it is not a common request.

      Hell how many get regularly tested? I get tested a couple of times a year but from what I can tell most don't and have no real idea what their status is. Some are afraid of getting tested for fear of being labeled or having that status known by the government, insurance, or anyone else. This allows personal, anonymous testing. So something like this could be a great thing to have.

      You know the second it becomes available it will be used by insurance companies during the initial physical. There is a market for such a device and if it makes it to production I see it being a BIG seller.

      • Then again...there is always the common sense approach, of not sticking your dick into someone that engages in risky behavior for getting HIV.
        • How do you determine that they have never engaged in risky behavior?
          Have you ever asked a partner about all there past sexual experiences?
          Have you ever been tested for HIV?
          If not and if you have had sexual partners in your life then you may have been exposed.
          Considering the fact that 14% of the people with HIV do not know they have it. Your partner may not even know they have it and may have never been tested to find out.

          The only "risky" behavior is having unprotected sex without knowing the persons status

          • by Anonymous Coward

            How do you determine that they have never engaged in risky behavior?

            It's really strange that "getting to know someone" has been thrown out the goddamn window in society as an option to mitigate this, along with any sort of trust.

            Don't even know why you would ask those questions without your handy dandy lie detector app running...perhaps we should have developed that first.

      • I was being facetious.. there are some great potential applications, but the 'immediate' one - of being able to test someone you're *not* in a LTR with, seems impossible for many reasons. First of all it may give a very false level of confidence in that they may have contracted HIV and it hasn't yet gestated, and can you imagine if you meet some girl - take her home - say "Hey, mind if I prick your finger and we wait like, 20 min to continue?"...

    • by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @12:07PM (#48989981)

      if an HIV test helps you decide whether or not to wear a cover, then you're one risky mofo.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Imagine if you can prick the finger of a hooker in a Pattaya bar while you're drinking, "just as a joke!", and figure out whether you need to strap on a condom or not. Wonderful invention for all the people who need immediate HIV tests for their partners! Yay for sex tourism!

      Except that STDs likely take a specific gestation period to start showing up on tests like these. If you choose to skip the condom when engaging with a sex worker, that's your dice to roll.

      Until it goes wrong and doesn't work. This type of thing is a litigation nightmare. Looks like vaporware to me, and the actual legitimate applications seem few.

      Unless some idiot is going to slap a 100% STD-free guarantee behind this test, there is nothing to litigate. This is a product and service that should not be guaranteed, nor meant to replace a medical specialist or doctor. In that sense, it has every right to thrive and survive right next to the home pregnancy kits.

      As

    • Until it goes wrong and doesn't work. This type of thing is a litigation nightmare. Looks like vaporware to me, and the actual legitimate applications seem few.

      Hopefully the folks working on the device favoured the false positives.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      Unless it counts viral load (which I doubt, but not RTFA), I wouldn't trust it for that.

      The screening tests need about 6 months of infection to be reliable.

      • The post was sort of a joke in terms of, NOT reliable, and could you imagine if you meet someone, and asked them "Hey do you mind if I prick your finger and we wait at least 15 minutes before we have sex?" I don't imagine it'd go down well, double entendre intended.

        • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

          I figured it was a joke, but as someone that has sex, I figured I'd correct anyone that thought otherwise.

          Especially with the cheap spit tests available now at drug stores.

        • Yes, I can completely imagine it. Instead of asking "hey, are you clean, have you been tested?" - which is perfectly acceptable (at least in major cities, I can't vouch for West Podunk, ND) - and *trusting* the person's answer (because we all know humans are 100% honest, 100% of the time, right?) - how about asking "hey, I'd like to not die in 15 years, so stick your finger in there and let me be a little more certain?".
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who are they selling too? I'm not into the club scene but I can't really see many people looking for a one night stand using this. I can see doctors using this but at even 250 resale value they won't sell enough units to just doctors to make them capitalist idols.

    • by masterofthumbs ( 2881445 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @12:03PM (#48989947)

      I'm guessing the target audience is medical workers in poorer countries with limited access to labratory equipment to test for these diseases. The local doctor can come to the village with their smartphone, this device, and a bunch of clean needles for it. The more mobile and cheaper medical equipment can be, the easier it is to care for people. This doesn't address the idea of safe sex though, its just a piece of test equipment.

      • by Ranbot ( 2648297 )

        I'm guessing the target audience is medical workers in poorer countries with limited access to labratory equipment to test for these diseases.

        Exactly. And even in poor rural countries mobile networks often have better coverage and are more reliable than land-based communications, so having this technology on a mobile device may increase the utility for doctors and aid workers in rural areas. They could easily transmit the data to nearby hospitals, to patient families, or safer cloud data storage options.

  • Better Story Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fnord666 ( 889225 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @11:59AM (#48989911) Journal
    Here [sciencedaily.com] is a link to the original article cited by the Times that contains more detail.
  • And, if you hook the same chemical reactions and transducer technology to a smartphone you can reproduce the same information generated from those chemical reactions and transducers hooked to ... wait for it... a computer.

    I'm really not seeing the point here. HIV antibody and syphilis ELISA testing have been point-of-care for some time. You open up the foil packet, drop some serum in the little well, wait five minutes and your answer shows up without any further processing, electricity or fuss. The big p

    • And, if you hook the same chemical reactions and transducer technology to a smartphone you can reproduce the same information generated from those chemical reactions and transducers hooked to ... wait for it... a computer.

      Smart phones are much more common than desktop computers in poorer countries. So yes, making a smaller, cheaper, reliable device for a smart phone is a big deal.

      It isn't like you can use the same smartphone dongle over and over again for very little cost.

      It isn't? Sure seems that's what they're doing, but I'd love to hear your logic as to why that's not what's happening.

      • by wed128 ( 722152 )

        "run assays on disposable plastic cassettes with pre-loaded reagents"

        There is some material cost to actually *using* the thing. It's unclear what that cost is, but there are disposable materials involved.

      • FTFA (referenced by wed128), it uses some sort of 'disposable cartridge'. There are plenty of ELISA based throw away, non powered, no computer required tests available even over the counter. Pregnancy tests and drug screens are two really common ones.

        What I don't see is why the researchers had to hook the thing up to a smartphone (or any other bit of electronics) in the first place. Perhaps there are some technical details that require, for example, UV florescence to get the signal up but this isn't clea

  • window period (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Too bad HIV has a window period [wikipedia.org] of three weeks to three months.

    • What's your point? Are you suggesting this device is therefore useless?

    • The point of this device - or any other at-home/POC HIV screening test - lies in the "screening" part of the name. It's NOT designed to provide a 100% reliable answer, it's designed to SCREEN OUT those who are definitely infected, and definitely past the window period. Would you have sex with someone whose test results are DEFINITELY positive? I don't think so. There ya go. That's the point. If the results are inconclusive / not available, then use your discretion and use protection. But willingly stare do
  • Is the tool able to determine by itself locally the outcome of the data, or does it send the data for analysis remotely? If it's the latter, there's a big privacy concern here.
    • doesn't matter. if it's "in" or "on" a smart phone, it's available remotely.
      • Ok, everything is hackable, viewable etc... but the fingerprints for instance are voluntarily not transferred to Apple. So, someone may come and hack that - but that's a risk, not the same. If Apple makes the soft without transferring the info to their servers, voluntarily, that's a good start.
  • Ok, tell the truth now: From just reading the headline, how many of you had interesting/disturbing/funny/twisted mental images of how one would test HIV with a smart phone?

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @12:41PM (#48990403)

    This is perfect for iPhone users!

  • It's using the smartphone to display the results so they don't have to include a screen on the device, and it's using the power from the phone instead of having its own batteries. It's not exactly the smartphone doing any of the testing. It's just another case of normal computing done on a smaller computer somehow being news. They could easily add a screen and a battery but that would raise the cost of the device and not force users to have much more expensive smartphones. Sometimes it's far better to have

  • by Russ1642 ( 1087959 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @12:51PM (#48990531)

    http://www.artronlab.com/produ... [artronlab.com]

    These kinds of strips are far cheaper, easy to use, don't require power, don't require a smartphone, etc.

  • More and more Craigslist purchases are occurring in police station lobbies to ensure the safety of both parties. This tech should be available as well for CL hookups (protected from tampering by either - any? - of the prospective partners, of course). I can't think a better way of striking a blow against STD transmission rates.

    Of course, it will never happen as this puritanical country (US) still can't come to terms with adult, consensual, out of wedlock casual sex., so STD away, as it's God's Punishmen
  • Accuracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Raven ( 30575 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @02:17PM (#48991663) Homepage

    What's the false positive and false negative rates of this cheap test, vs the normal one? While it's probably better to have a mediocre test rather than none at all, there are times when that's not true... high false positive rates for rare conditions can waste resources on healthy individuals. High false negative rates for common conditions can give patients a false sense of safety.

    The specificity of the test matters a lot before you can judge its utility.

    • I'm pretty sure this IS the 'normal' screening test. Same as you can get over the counter in a number of countries (as far as I can tell from TFA). They have just taped the HIV and Syphilis tests together. It apparently relies on antibody production so there is a lag period between exposure and a positive test.

      So all of the caveats of any HIV test except the direct polymerase chain reaction ones that can find a few viral particles floating around. If they can repeat that chemistry in a $34 device, that

  • by BadPirate ( 1572721 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @02:57PM (#48992105) Homepage

    For the Tinder user on the Go...

  • TFA does not say anything about the interesting part, the sensor: how does it works, and how many time can it be reused?
  • The app requires access to:
    -your identity
    -your contact list
    -your call history
    -full internet access
    By using this app, you agree to our privacy policy.

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