Use of Novel Mobile Technology to Screen Sexual Partners for HIV and STIs

Principal Investigator: 

Funding Agency:

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

Collaborating Institution: 

Department of Biomedical Engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University

Study Location:

New York, NY, USA


In this study, we explore the use of a new device, the SMARTtest dongle. This device uses smartphone technology to analyze a drop of blood and test it for HIV and syphilis antibodies using the same laboratory assays now in general use but in a smaller, mobile package. Through a clear display of "positive" or "negative" results on the smartphone screen, the mChip dongle offers an easily read, combined HIV and syphilis test that capitalizes on smartphone technology to provide clearer user instructions, instant information about HIV/STI, remote monitoring of its use, and linkage of newly diagnosed individuals to care.

Our focus is on HIV-uninfected MSM and TGW with multiple sexual partners who know how to prevent HIV infection, yet engage in high-risk sexual behavior. We are enrolling 60 participants in an initial phase ot assess acceptability of the device through a skill demonstration in our offices, followed by an interview eliciting the user’s reactions and thoughts about how he might use it if it were available.  We then will optimize both the device and the accompanying app for home use through a subsequent development phase with a small group of the original participants and working closely with the engineers and ourselves. 

Once the testing device and app are ready, we will recruit a new group of 80 volunteers to try out the improved testing procedure and screen 50 of them to a final study phase in which they will be given the device and app for potential use with sexual partners over a three-month period. In follow-up interviews, we will learn how this novel testing technology works with an important target population under real-world conditions.