Can Point-of-Care Diagnostics Help with HIV Challenges?

More advanced therapies are needed in the fight against HIV infections.

Ajay Panawar, Sr. Engineering Manager

May 2, 2022

6 Min Read
Image courtesy of ronstik / Alamy Stock Photo


HIV is a significant global health problem, and it affects people throughout the world. Approximately 37 million people are infected with the virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2017, there were 940 000 deaths from HIV-related causes (HIV/AIDS Surveillance 1994). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that damages the immune system, making its victims more susceptible to other illnesses and infections., which can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Causes of HIV Infection 

Blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk are all potential avenues of transmission for HIV. The most common way to contract HIV is through sexual contact with an infected person. Sharing contaminated needles or syringes, being born to an infected mother, or receiving contaminated blood products are some other ways that HIV might be passed on. It presents with a wide variety of symptoms that can differ based on the stage of infection, which are as follows:

Acute HIV infection: This is the initial phase of HIV infection, and it can last from a few weeks up to several months. During the final stage, patients are frequently plagued with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, rash, night sweats, muscular aches, a sore throat, tiredness, swollen lymph nodes, or ulcers in the mouth.

Chronic HIV infection: This is the advanced phase of HIV disease. Symptoms during this phase are often more subtle than in the acute phase and can include fatigue, weight loss, fevers, diarrhea, and cough.

The most severe form of HIV infection is AIDS, which can take months or years to progress. The symptoms of this stage are typically more severe and might include weight loss, tiredness, fever, shivers, nighttime sweats, constipation, hacking, and difficulty breathing.


Diagnosis and Unmet Clinical Need:

Currently, the diagnosis of HIV is made using a blood test that checks for antibodies to the virus. There is no known cure for HIV, but there are several therapies that can help people live longer. The goal of therapy is to get rid of the virus and prevent AIDS from developing. This includes treatment of associated conditions and prevention of opportunistic infections.

The currently available treatments are meant to prolong a person's life. The most common treatment is a combination of antiretroviral drugs that prevent the virus from replicating in the body. There is also a preventive treatment called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) that can be taken by individuals who are more likely to acquire HIV infection to prevent them from becoming infected with the virus (Durvasula 2014).

HIV is difficult to treat because there is no cure and no effective vaccine. The virus can mutate and become resistant to drugs, making it difficult to control. There is also a lack of suitable diagnostic tools. One of the biggest challenges in treating HIV is the lack of a vaccine. There are many different strains of the virus, and it mutates rapidly, making it difficult to develop a vaccine that is effective against all strains (Dasgupta et al. 2022). More research is needed to find curative treatments and better prevention methods.

Another challenge is drug resistance. The virus can mutate and become resistant to the drugs used to treat it. This makes it difficult to control the virus and leads to treatment failures. There is also a lack of suitable diagnostic tools. Currently, there is no rapid test that can accurately diagnose HIV infection. This means that diagnosis often requires expensive and time-consuming laboratory tests.

When it comes to HIV, there are a lot of unmet clinical needs. One of the most pressing needs is for better treatments. Current antiretroviral therapies are not curative and can have significant side effects. There is also a need for treatments that can prevent HIV infection in the first place. Another unmet need is for better diagnostics. There are currently no point-of-care tests for HIV that can give results in a matter of minutes. This means that people who are at risk for HIV often do not get tested until they develop symptoms, which can be too late for effective treatment (Dong et al. 2020). There is also a need for improved access to care, as many people with HIV don’t have health insurance or cannot afford the cost of treatment. Finally, there is a need for more public education about HIV and how it is transmitted. With all of these unmet needs, It is evident that significant efforts are required in the battle against HIV.

In addition, the COVID pandemic has caused a new set of problems for people with HIV. The pandemic has made it more difficult for people with HIV to access care and treatment. This is because many healthcare facilities have been overwhelmed by the pandemic and aren’t able to provide the same level of care as they did before. In addition, the pandemic has caused a shortage of some of the drugs used to treat HIV. This has made it difficult for people with HIV to get the care and treatment they need.


In conclusion, the disease burden of HIV is significant and there are many unmet needs. There is an urgent need for new drugs, new vaccines, and new diagnostic tools to improve the treatment and prevention of HIV. The associated diseases are taking a toll on societies worldwide. This underscores the need for continued research and development in this area.

The first step is to gain a deeper understanding of the virus and how it functions. Only then can we hope to develop new treatments and vaccines that can effectively control the virus. We must also improve access to care and education about HIV if we are to make progress in the fight against this disease. With continued research and dedication, we can eventually find a way to end the HIV epidemic.




About the Author(s)

Ajay Panawar

Sr. Engineering Manager, Medtronic

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