Getting a quick read on your sexual health may soon be as simple as urinating or drooling on your smartphone…yes, you read that right.
Tariq Sadiq from St George’s University of London is managing the “eSTI2” project. The hope of the eSTI2 project is to address the rising epidemic of STDs and STIs in the UK, quickly and cheaply.
“It’s bringing the diagnostics to the population rather than having the population come into clinics. We’ve really wanted to do this process because there’s been this huge burden of sexually transmitted infections,” Sadiq told CNN.
Using a sample of a person’s saliva or urine placed on a smartphone-connected device no bigger than a USB chip, the eSTI2 project will diagnose a range of STIs, including Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, and then tell you where to go for further treatment. This means GPS tracking data, which could mean potential leaks–and potential privacy nightmares.
The eSTI2 project is geared primarily at younger, tech-savvy Brits who are too embarrassed to see a doctor. The number of reported STDs in Britain increased to a record high of 482,696, last year. Two-thirds of women and half of men reporting a new STI were under 25, according to the Guardian.
Like rubbers of yesteryear, the chips can be made available in public locations such as in vending machines or nightclubs. They’ll sell for roughly $1.50 USD, and will be disposable. Think about it: people will be hogging the stall as they quickly check their bodies for sexually-transmitted bacteria, spitting and peeing on their phones. Gross, right? Well, it gets grosser.
Scientists hope that the chip will eventually be able to diagnose HIV–which would require a blood sample. So you might also have people slashing themselves open, spilling blood all over the place, trying to self-diagnose under unsanitary conditions. Yeah, the CDC will have a field day.
While I’m all about advances in medical science–and, being a lazy guy, a cheerleader for convenience–and I wholeheartedly support trying to stop the spread of STDs, this kind of project sounds about as responsible as telling a hypochondriac to self-diagnose on WebMD and then giving them free reign of a pharmacy.