March 9, 2012 | The Editors

Milestones: HIV dipstick technology

Here’s the latest in our series on milestones from PATH’s first 35 years.

1990s: Developed a rapid, affordable dipstick test for HIV

Gloved hand dips card with eight tabs into container holding solution.
HIV dipstick technology. Photo: PATH/Glenn Austin.

The health challenge: Routine screening of blood supplies in developing countries was difficult because test kits and electrically powered equipment were costly and sometimes unavailable for remote blood banks and laboratories.

What we did: In the early 1990s, PATH was one of the first to develop a rapid, affordable dipstick test to detect antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2. The groundbreaking technology represented a major breakthrough in diagnostics at PATH. It allowed small- and medium-sized blood banks and public health laboratories in developing countries to test for HIV quickly and cost-effectively, provided faster clinical diagnosis for patients, and delivered inexpensive and accurate results for field surveillance and epidemiological use.

The result: PATH transferred the technology to manufacturers in four developing countries, with total sales now exceeding 19 million tests. The technology is still in use in India and has helped lower costs and increase the availability of rapid HIV tests from other companies, leading to more affordable HIV testing, safer blood supplies, and faster results for patients.

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