Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New "Lab on a Chip" Primed to Expand HIV Testing

Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock
A field trial of a "lab on a chip" showed considerable promise as a quick and reliable new tool to detect the presence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In a test conducted in Rwanda, where HIV infection is epidemic, the blood samples were injected into small devices and produced results in about 20 minutes, according to a report in the August 1 Washington Post. Other quick HIV screening tests have shown disappointing reliability, and other tests require a turnaround time of several weeks. The new device is expected to cost about $2 to $3. Experts hope this will revolutionize HIV testing in Rwanda and elsewhere. In that country, about 3 percent of adults are estimated to have HIV infection, and many live two or three hours from hospitals where blood samples are usually collected for testing.

Two U.S. psychiatrists have for the last several years been helping their Rwandan colleagues deal with the double burden of HIV and serious mental illness. Watch for the upcoming August 5 issue of Psychiatric News to read an in-depth account of the work of these psychiatrists and their Rwandan colleagues in fighting these challenging battles. To read about treating the neurocognitive consequences of HIV/AIDS see Psychiatric News at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/5/18.1.full.


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