Scientists Working On Smartphone App Capable Of HIV Testing

We’ve seen the FDA approve a rapid-response home HIV kit here in the States but, in Africa, researchers are working on a smartphone that can perform HIV tests.

A team of scientists from South Africa and South Korea are developing Smartscope, an app that can photograph and analyze blood samples and measure white blood cells, reports AFP. “Our idea was to obtain images and analyse images on this smartphone using applications,” said Korean biomedical engineer Jung Kyung Kim.

In addition to the application, the test uses a 1-millimeter microscope attachment that clips onto a smartphone camera.  The hope is to start testing next year in South Africa, where nearly six million people are HIV positive, and Swaziland, where a quarter of the adult population carries the virus.

Smartscope isn’t intended to replace in-clinic testing in developed areas, but to help diagnosis and treatment in rural areas where technology is limited.  “In community-health mobile technology is not a gimmick. It becomes an essential part of access,” said Jannie Hugo, a professor of family medicine at the University of Pretoria and one of the study’s researchers.