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Lab Chip. 2011 Jan 21;11(2):194-211. doi: 10.1039/c0lc00340a. Epub 2010 Dec 1.

Tackling HIV through robust diagnostics in the developing world: current status and future opportunities.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering and Center for Global Health and Development, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Over the last thirty years, the world has seen HIV circulate the globe, affecting 33 million people to date and killing 2 million people a year. The disease has affected developed and developing countries alike, and in the U.S., remains one of the top ten leading causes of death. Many regions of the world are highly impacted by this disease, including sub-Saharan Africa, South and South-East Asia, and Eastern Europe. Fortunately, multilateral, global efforts, along with successful developments in diagnostic tools and anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) have successfully curbed the spread of HIV over the last ten years. In spite of this fact, access to HIV treatment and preventive healthcare is varying and limited in developing countries. A lack of healthcare infrastructure, financial support, and healthcare workers are some logistical factors that are responsible. HIV stigmatization, discrimination, and inadequate education pose additional social challenges that are hindering countries from advancing in HIV prevention. This review focuses on current technological tools that are used for HIV diagnosis and ongoing research that is aimed at addressing the conditions in low-resource settings. Recent developments in microfluidic applications and mobile health technologies are promising approaches to building a compact, portable, and robust device that can provide information-rich, real-time diagnoses. We also discuss the role that governments, healthcare workers, and even researchers can play in order to increase the acceptance of newly introduced devices and treatments in rural communities.

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