HIV testing has long been a tedious thing for doctors and scientists, who generally use saliva tests which only detect the virus in its later stages. But now, a new method has been developed which could revolutionize the way testing is done in third-world countries, because it is simple to use, requires no expensive equipment, and is ten times more sensitive than any other test currently being used.
“We would be able to detect infection even in those cases where previous methods, such as the saliva test, were rendering a ‘false negative’ because the viral load was too low to be detected,” researcher Molly Stevens said.
The test itself works much like a standard home pregnancy test, with solution in a bottle turning red in the absence of the virus and blue when the virus is detected. It can also be adapted to test for other diseases, such as Tuberculosis and malaria.
As of 2010, Africa was home to more than 23 million of those suffering with AIDS out of a worldwide total of 34 million, a number which is tragic and daunting to the researchers who are trying to find a way to treat those patients where resources are scarce. It’s possible that this new testing system will change all that.
Stevens and her team plan to take the idea to several health agencies and non-profit organizations to help them distribute the tests throughout the world.