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Need an STD test? There soon may be an app for that

November 9, 2010 |  2:07 pm

Mobile phones and computers may soon be used as on-the-go testing stations for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, thanks to efforts in Britain to curb the rising rate of herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea among young people.

A group of doctors and tech experts, known as the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, has put 4 million pounds (about $6.4 million) into developing a system, similar to pregnancy testing kits, that will be able to tell someone within minutes, privately, if they have an STD, according to a report in the Guardian.

The user will be able to put urine or saliva onto a computer chip about the size of a USB drive, which then plugs it into their phone or computer to receive a quick diagnosis of common STDs, the Guardian said.

Sexual health officials in Britain hope the system will help reduce the growing number of people infected with STDs, many of whom are too embarrassed to go to a doctor to get tested, according to the article. Two-thirds of women in Britain reporting a new sexually transmitted infection were under 25, as were more than half of men, according to the Guardian.

No information was given in the article about when the system will make it to the public market.

The hope is that technology-savvy young people will take to the self-testing system, which will be sold in vending machines in nightclubs, pharmacies and supermarkets, alongside condoms, the Guardian said.

"Your mobile phone can be your mobile doctor," said Dr. Tariq Sadiq, a senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St. George's, University of London, who is heading up the project, according to the article.

The system will be able to diagnose whether a person has one of several STDs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, and will even tell the user where to go for treatment, the Guardian said.

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

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