Development of a Novel, Low-Cost Point of Care HIV Viral Load Diagnostic for Resource-Limited Communities

Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus, 2008 - $20,000

HIV viral load testing, which measures the number of HIV copies in a milliliter of blood, provides important information in monitoring the status of HIV disease by guiding recommendations for therapy and predicting the future course of the disease. However, the current viral load test is expensive ($50k initial capital outlay, $40 per test), requires skilled technicians and significant training, and is available only in well-equipped medical facilities.

This E-Team is developing a new viral load test that is far cheaper ($200 capital outlay, $6 per test), does not required skilled technicians, and can be implemented in rural clinics in the developing world. The team’s simple approach is to use the naked eye to confirm the presence and quantity of HIV in the blood. The product will be a kit consisting of two pieces of equipment (a blue-light box and a water bath) and a package of inexpensive reagents that do not require cold-chain storage. Blood samples drawn from the patient are processed in 2.5 hours and read in a dark room using the blue-light: blood containing HIV above threshold levels fluoresce, indicating a high viral load.