Tonga to introduce HIV and syphilis 15 minutes diagnosis kit

A new smartphone app that tests blood samples for HIV and syphilis in just 15 minutes will be piloted in Tonga in September.

The software, developed by biomedical experts at Columbia University, analyses blood samples taken with a finger-prick dongle, Daily Mail reports.

The kit, which attaches to any smartphone or computer, replicates a lab test and can give a diagnosis in the field in just 15 minutes.

“The device is nearly 540 times cheaper than current lab testing machines, and has already been tested on patients in Rwanda during a pilot study”.

“Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialist Dr. Ma’ake Tupou is currently facilitating a one-day training at the Tanoa Hotel aiming to train Medical Officers and Nurses on the new kit”, a Ministry of Health statement says.

Dr. Tupou said the kit will be useful in isolated places which have no laboratories, like the Niuas.

”There are four major Hospitals in Tonga, these hospitals have labs but with places like the Niuas who do not have one, this kit will be very useful.”

The test kit will be available for anyone who needs screening for HIV and Syphilis.

“Routine Health Test, like the Antenatal Clinic, Public Servant Health Test, Travel Health Test which normally includes HIV/Syphilis tests, starting next month the new kit will be used, instead of going to the lab and we invite anyone that need screening for HIV and Shyphis to come along,’’ Dr. Tupou said.

Four other Pacific countries which will take part in the pilot programme included Kiribati, Palau, Samoa and Vanuatu.

The project is funded under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through Multi-Country Western Pacific Programme to improve the public health response to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

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