Could a $34 smartphone device improve HIV diagnosis in Africa?

Children run past a mural painting of an Aids ribbon at a school in Khutsong Township, west of JohannesburgBy Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) – A $ 34 device that plugs into the audio jack of a smartphone was nearly as effective as far more costly diagnostic blood testing equipment in identifying antibodies for HIV and syphilis in a pilot study in Africa, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The mobile lab device, known as a dongle, cost $ 34 to make, compared with more than $ 18,000 for the gold standard diagnostic equipment. In a pilot study, the device performed all of the mechanical, optical and electronic functions of a lab-based blood test in 15 minutes, using only power drawn from the smartphone. It was developed by a team lead by Samuel Sia, an associate professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University in New York.

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