A new application to improve the reading of HIV rapid test results will be developed in Australia.

Victoria’s Burnet Institute and Australian biomedical applications company Axxin Ltd have joined forces to develop a device which allows for the precise reading of rapid tests to determine if a patient needs anti-retroviral treatment.

Burnet Institute spokeswoman Tracy Routledge told Southern Star it was an important Australian innovation and would take the “human error” out of diagnosing if and when people with HIV should start medication.

“This is designed for areas of the world such as sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where technology is not as advanced or available,” she said.

Routledge said the new application was about finding a definitive way to ensure anti-retroviral treatments were provided at the appropriate time.

The rapid test measures CD4 T cells, which gauge the health of the immune system, using a simple finger-prick.

Last year Burnet Institute scientists announced the development of the portable rapid test HIV monitoring device ­— similar to a pregnancy test. The device is designed for use in remote areas.

The tests are cost effective, expected to cost less than $2 each test, which could greatly assist developing nations without easy access to complex laboratory set-ups.

Burnet Institute associate professor David Anderson said the test is easy to use and reliable.

“The test kit and reader are significant advancements able to guide treatment decisions at the point-of-care without extensive training or sophisticated equipment,” he said.

“[This] should lead to improved access to anti-retroviral drugs, especially in developing and resource-constrained countries.”

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