Talk, text, and test for STDs

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Announced November 6, UK doctors are developing a self-testing mobile phone kit that can diagnose sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) within minutes.

Researchers at St. George's, University of London are embarking on a new £5.7 million (6.6 million euros) project to develop self-test devices that can plug directly into mobile phones and computers, to immediately identify STDs. The new technology is in response to the rising rates of herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea among young people in the UK, and is aimed at tech-savvy young people who may be reluctant to visit a doctor to get tested, researchers say.

To test for an STD, users can put urine or saliva on a one-time-use computer chip about the size of a USB key, plug it into their phone or computer, and receive a diagnosis within minutes, alerting them to which, if any, STD they (or their potential partner) may have.

The developers expect the device to be sold for as little as £1 (1.16 euro) each in vending machines in bars and nightclubs, pharmacies, and in supermarkets, just as condoms are.

"Currently, if you want to know if you have an infection, your sample is usually sent to a laboratory and the results come back in a few days," said lead researcher Tariq Sadiq, senior lecturer at St. George's, in a statement. "Imagine how much more likely you would be to get tested if you could test yourself away from a clinic and have an on-the-spot, accurate result, but still let a doctor or pharmacist know within minutes that you may need treatment."

Another new technology advancing the capabilities of the mobile phone is the H'andy sana 210, tagged as a "doctor in your pocket." The device allows heart patients to remotely monitor their heart by recording a real-time ECG (electrocardiogram) and sending it to a health professional - but it also functions as a regular smartphone.

Learn more about the STD testing device: