There's an old saying that you can't have anything cheap, easy, and fast - the best you can hope for is two out of three. However, a new paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology describes an HIV test that may, in fact, hit all of those marks. Easy: the test uses nanotechnology to detect small quantities of p24 in serum, and the solution turns blue if any is detected. This result is visible to the naked eye. Fast: the test can be used to detect new HIV infections far earlier than traditional HIV tests. Cheap: if deployed, the test would be a lot more affordable than current tests for acute infections.
A test like this one could be enormously helpful, particularly in low resource countries where current tests are difficult to deploy, people do not come in for regular testing, and doctors need to detect HIV infection as quickly as possible. Hopefully, the researchers will be able to scale up their results and production. Since many HIV infections are transmitted before people know they are infected, early testing and treatment is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of HIV.