Facts have emerged that Doctors and technology experts are developing small devices, similar to pregnancy testing kits, that will tell someone quickly and privately if they have caught an infection through sexual contact.
According to a report in Guardian, Mobile phones and computers will soon be able to diagnose sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhoea among young people, and thus help in controlling pelvic inflammatory disease and even infertility later in life.
People will be able to receive a diagnosis within minutes about the sexually transmitted infection (STI) they have by simply putting their urine or saliva on to a computer chip about the size of a USB chip and plug it into their phone or computer.
The self-testing devices are aimed at technology-savvy young people. Public health experts the report says are concerned that, although most STIs occur among the young, many are too embarrassed to visit a GP or a genito-urinary medicine clinic to get tested and therefore continue to suffer and potentially pass the disease on.
Doctors hope that the ability to obtain a private, confidential diagnosis will overcome their widespread reluctance to take a test.
The developers of the rapid testing devices expect them to be sold for as little as 50p or £1 each in vending machines in nightclubs, pharmacies and in supermarkets, as condoms are. They are drawing on nanotechnology and microfluidics, the creation of miniaturised laboratories.
“Your mobile phone can be your mobile doctor. It diagnoses whether you’ve got one of a range of STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea and tells you where to go next to get treatment,” said Dr Tariq Sadiq, a senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George’s, University of London, who is leading the project. Self-testing could lead to quicker diagnosis, fewer STIs and patients gaining greater control of their sexual health, as well as the ability to alert recent sexual partners, he added.
Doctors said the devices could help by removing the need to meet a health professional as some people may find going into a doctor’s surgery to be tested an intimidating and awkward experience. This is important, particularly for women since Some STIs do not always display symptoms, and can lead to future painful pelvic inflammatory disease and even infertility, both of which could be avoided with testing and appropriate treatment.
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