November 9, 2010
Phones May Soon Help Diagnose STDs
British researchers are reportedly working on a kit for phones and personal computers that will be able to diagnose sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
The report said that the device will be small and similar to pregnancy testing kits.
Users who suspect they have been infected with an STD will be able to put urine or saliva on to a computer chip and plug it into their phone or computer to receive a diagnosis.
The device will be able to diagnose a range of infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
Health experts believe the testing kit will help slow the rising rate of infection, which is highest among the young and tech-savvy people.
"Britain is one of the worst [countries] in western Europe for teenage pregnancy and STIs. That there's a major embarrassment factor here, especially among young people, makes the situation worse," Dr. Tariq Sadiq, a senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health at the University of London and the person leading the project, told The Guardian.
"We need to tackle the rising epidemic of STIs, which have been going up and up and up. Britain is one of the worst [countries] in western Europe for teenage pregnancy and STIs. That there's a major embarrassment factor here, especially among young people, makes the situation worse."
According to the report, seven funders have put the equivalent of over $6 million into developing the technology.
Researchers expect these devices will be sold for about $1.60 each in nightclub vending machines, pharmacies and in supermarkets.
He said that self-testing could lead to quicker diagnosis, fewer STDs and patients gaining greater control of their sexual health, as well as the ability to alert recent sexual partners.
Doctors said the devices could help by removing the need to meet a health professional.
"Some people may find going into a doctor's surgery to be tested an intimidating experience, so it's crucial that we find new ways to engage with people," Dr Marion Henderson, from the MRC's social and public health sciences unit, told The Guardian.
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