Let’s be honest: Smartphones aren’t necessarily thought of as devices that help to slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, research has found that transmission rates go up when hookup sites – even ones on the tamer end, like CraigsList – come to town.
But smartphones are also capable of transforming into competitive diagnostic tools, as a team of biomedical engineers out of Columbia University is showing with their new attachment that can detect both HIV and syphilis in a single 15-minute test.
The dongle, as the team writes in the journal Science Translational Medicine, costs just $34 to make (an amount that could drop further if mass produced). It uses the phone’s power and data collection, and incorporates simple optics and fluid control to process a finger prick of blood.
While paper-based options for home testing do exist, and work much in the way that…
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