HIV Viral Load Testing
To determine the status of an HIV infection, viral load testing is used to determine the amount of virus in the body. As patients continue to take antiretroviral therapies (ART), effective viral load testing allows clinicians to ensure that the amount of the virus in the body stays low.
Access to HIV Testing
We hope to pilot our device in Tijuana, Mexico, where the HIV prevalence is three times the national average. Here, viral load testing is too costly for most patients to afford. Furthermore, there are currently no point-of-care viral load testing platforms available throughout the free clinics in the city.
Electromagnetic RNA extraction
We begin the process of quantifying the amount of virus in the body by isolating the genetic material, RNA, from a patient's blood sample. We use a series of reagents and beads, in combination with our novel electromagnetic chip based solution, to automate the extraction process.
After extracting the RNA, the sample is funneled into our low-cost thermocycler that was designed with sustainability in mind. Using easily replaceable parts and a consistent and accurate resistive heating method, we multiply the amount of genetic material present to easily image and quantify the amount of virus.
Our last device component is our low-cost fluorescence quantification imager. The patient sample, along with control standards, is placed into our imager which determines the final viral load. Our limit of detection of 500 copies/mL allows clinicians determine whether patients' antiretroviral therapy regimens are working, and whether a patient needs to switch regimens to avoid contracting AIDS and spreading the disease.