Five female students from Makerere University in Uganda have developed a smartphone app for women’s health. The test kit will help rural women with little access to regular health care detect vaginal infections that may increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Her Health BV kit is a combination of hardware and a software application. It comes with a test kit, which is connected to the smartphone app through Bluetooth. Users place urine or vaginal discharge sample onto the kit and pH values can be sent through the cell phone app. The app interprets the results and recommends visiting a local health clinic if unhealthy levels of bacteria are present. The app also informs the user of the closest nearby clinic.

Vaginal infections, known at bacterial vaginosis, are caused by a bacterial imbalance in the female body and can lead to an inflammation of the pelvic area. The condition is not especially dangerous, but it can make the infected woman more susceptible to a number of ailments. In pregnant women, vaginal infection has been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage, as well as uterine infections after giving birth. Vaginal infections also increase the likelihood of pelvic infections and complications during gynecological procedures such as cesarean sections.

These bacterial infections have also been cited as a risk factor for the contraction of HIV/AIDS: a recent study in the journal Sexual Transmitted Infections, part of the British Medical Journal, showed 88 percent of women found to be at high risk for HIV had experienced vaginal infections during the course of the study.

As vaginal infections present no obvious symptoms for the patient, diagnosis depends on regular pelvic exams, which can be difficult for rural women to obtain.

The group of five that created the kit call themselves Team Code Gurus. They hope to partner with various NGOs and nonprofits to distribute the testing kit in rural areas of Uganda. They also plan on raising awareness for this self-diagnostic kit through local clinics and pharmacies.

Atifah Safi

Sources: Chronicle, Europe PMC, Nejm, Mayo Clinic
Photo: frontlinesms