In an effort to fight the growing occurrence–especially among children and teens–of sexually transmitted disease, U.K. developers are currently designing a cell phone application that could diagnose these illnesses remotely, according to Blackvoices.com.
The Electronic Self-Testing Instruments for Sexually Transmitted Infections is a collaborative research effort under way at the University of London in England. Bugs that could be detected by the application, which has already received $6.5 million in grants, include herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
The app utilizes a chip that, when smeared with urine or saliva of a person suspected of being infected, can be inserted into a cell phone or computer and an evaluation can be completed in a matter of minutes. The chip can only be used once after the diagnosis has been made.
The projected cost of each test is $15 to $30 but researchers are working to lower the cost to $3 per test.
With clinical trials and other hurdles to be crossed, the app could be more than 10 years from daily use.
But once it is available, “your mobile phone can be your mobile doctor,” Dr. Tariq Sadiq, a senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St. George’s University of London and a leading developer in the project told the UK Guardian. “We need to tackle the rising epidemic of which have been going up and up.”
The Guardian reports that two-thirds of the country’s women who contract STDs are under 25, as are more than half the newly infected men. In the U.S., about 1 in 10 sexually active teens are found to have an STD, according to medical researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Also, most teens that are infected have no symptoms.
“Britain is one of the worst in western Europe for teenage pregnancy and ,” Sadiq, the project director, told The Guardian. “Some people may find going into a doctor’s surgery to be tested an intimidating experience, so it’s crucial that we find new ways to engage with people.”
“Some people do not get tested because they choose to do nothing about their symptoms, such as an itch or discharge, or dislike clinics’ waiting lists or opening times,” Sadiq told The Guardian. “With some people can remain infectious, even when the initial symptoms have disappeared.”
Following the product’s release, developers say it will be sold in vending machines in pharmacies, nightclubs and in supermarkets.