One key to treating and preventing HIV is effective and quick diagnosis. In North America, results usually arrive in days or even hours. But in some African countries, HIV tests need to be sent to far-flung national labs, and diagnosis can take weeks, while patients who live a long way from the clinic often can't make the trek back to get their results.
A new credit card-sized device from Columbia University called the mChip is set to change that. With one prick of blood, the chip can diagnose multiple diseases including syphilis and HIV in 12 to 15 minutes. It's also extremely affordable, and in a recent test it correctly diagnosed 100% of HIV cases with a 4-6% positive rate - accuracy that holds up to any standard lab test.
The estimated cost once this technology is rolled out is $2-3 per end user, which compares favourably with the current lateral flow test. Researchers say the chip could be in patients' hands in two or three years, provided Western countries lend their support.