The device uses a drop of blood to detect HIV, and then creates an electrical signal that can be read by a computer.
Scientists at Imperial College London and DNA Electronics have created a device that will enable patients to test for HIV using a USB stick.
The new technology monitors the amount of virus in the bloodstream, and can produce results in under 30 minutes. Current tests to detect the virus can take at least three days or longer.
The disposable test could be used for HIV patients to monitor their own treatment. It can also enable patients with HIV to be managed more effectively in remote locations.
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Dr Graham Cooke, senior author of the research from the Department of Medicine at Imperial explained: “HIV treatment has dramatically improved over the last 20 years — to the point that many diagnosed with the infection now have a normal life expectancy.
“However, monitoring viral load is crucial to the success of HIV treatment. At the moment, testing often requires costly and complex equipment that can take a couple of days to produce a result. We have taken the job done by this equipment, which is the size of a large photocopier, and shrunk it down to a USB chip.”