Smartphone chip could provide STI test

9 Nov 2010

Doctors and technology experts are working on tech to allow people to urinate on a device that plugs into their smartphone in order to find out whether or not their have a sexually transmitted infection.

According to The Guardian, the technology will let users put urine or saliva onto a computer chip, similar to a USB dongle, which can then plug into a smartphone or PC.

It will then let them receive a diagnosis within minutes, telling them if they have any STIs.

The developers wish to charge about 50p or stg£1 for the devices and want them to be sold similarly to how condoms are, such as in vending machines in nightclubs, in pharmacies and in supermarkets.

The technology is still in the research phase. Seven UK funders, including the Medical Research Council, have put stg£4m into developing this and sexual health experts have hailed this concept, hoping this discrete method will encourage more young people to get tested.

“We need to tackle the rising epidemic of STIs, which have been going up and up and up,” said Dr Tariq Sadiq to The Guardian, senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George’s University of London. Sadiq is also leading the project.

“That there’s a major embarrassment factor here, especially among young people, which makes the situation worse.”

Self-testing could also lead to a faster diagnosis and could help prevent the spread of these infections as patients regain control of discovering whether or not they have an STI.