Researches have developed an iPhone app and dongle that can test people for HIV and syphilis – and get results within 15 minutes.

The dongle, created by researchers at Columbia University, has been developed as a way of potentially expanding ease of access to screening.

The device – the prototype of which is the size of a wallet – plugs into an iPhone or other smartphone, and can analyse blood samples, which can then be screened for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections including syphilis.

The device costs just $34 and the entire process takes around 15 minutes, which could revolutionise HIV diagnosis, especially in remote areas. It could also potentially allow the LGBT community to discreetly test in countries where homosexuality is illegal.

Researchers believe that if the device can be shrunk down, the concept could also potentially change the face of screening in the US, making it cheaper and more accessible.

Samuel Sia, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia, said: “The test is designed to be used by anyone proficient with a smartphone.

“The cost, size and power … those three things, we just reduced it by orders of magnitude from what we did before. It replicates all the things that a lab-based robot would do.

“We’re actually not really developing a totally new way of doing things, but instead we’re just replicating what lab-based instruments do, step by step.

“We are hoping to see a version of this product in the market in a few years.”

Sabin Nsanzimana of the the Rwandan Ministry of Health praised the concept, telling the Washington Blade: “Early and faster diagnosis further reduces the morbidity and mortality due to HIV and STIs.

“Technology and health must go together. This is a good example of that concept.”