Lifestyle & Belief

New HIV color test to improve diagnosis in the developing world

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A worker performs a CD4 HIV test at a lab of Shanghai Xuhui District Central Hospital in Shanghai, China, on December 6, 2006.

Credit:

China photos

Scientists have come up with an HIV test that is ten times more sensitive and a fraction of the cost of existing methods.

According to research from scientists at Imperial College in London published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the test uses nanotechnology to give results that can be seen with the naked eye by turning a sample red or blue, reported Reuters. The test can also be reconfigured to detect other diseases, such as sepsis, Leishmaniasis, Tuberculosis and malaria.

"Our approach affords for improved sensitivity, does not require sophisticated instrumentation and it is ten times cheaper," Molly Stevens, who led the research, told Reuters.

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Reuters also noted that the new sensor works by testing serum, a clear watery fluid derived from blood samples, in a disposable container for the presence of an HIV biomarker called p24.

If the sample turns red, it's negative for the disease; if it turns blue, it's positive, according to BBC News.

"It can also help with diagnosing HIV-infected patients whose viral load is too low to be detected with current methods," Stevens said.

According to Reuters, Stevens and her collaborator Roberto de la Rica said they want to approach not-for-profit global health organizations to help them with the manufacturing and distribution of the new test in low-income countries.