Catch, the self-testing HIV detector by Hans Ramzan
Catch, designed by Hans Ramzan, is a low-cost and user-friendly HIV detector, specifically designed for people in developing countries, where difficult access to healthcare, education and infrastructure hinders early diagnosis.
HIV is the leading cause of death in developing countries, with 2.5 million people infected every year, where the virus often goes unnoticed to the point of developing into AIDS – the final stage of HIV. If caught early, HIV is treatable.
British product designer Hans Ramzan, recently nominated for the Beazley Designs of the year, has created a low-cost, pocket-sized device that allows easy blood extraction, enabling people to test autonomously for HIV.
Ramzan’s guiding principle was to combat the issue of late detection of the disease, designing a device with the potential to save millions of lives, which would help developing countries to be less dependent on western donations for medical aid. He set out to design Catch in order to encourage people with limited access to healthcare to test themselves.
Moreover, with a production cost of just £4, Catch is partly made from recycled plastic, a composite of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) water bottles and regular PET. The choice of using recycled material was to help fight the ever-growing issue of environmental degradation.
Following the “form follows function” ideology, Catch is a user-friendly and intuitive product, accurate at 99.9% for negative results and with result ranges between 91-96% for positive ones.
Catch operates in three painless simple steps. Firstly, the users slide the tight sleeve, which is soaked in disinfectant. Then, they push down a pipette placed at the top of the device, linked to a needle that collects the blood sample, lightly stinging the finger. The blood falls into an absorbent strip, which is an indicator able to detect antibodies in the blood, showing the result in a similarly to a pregnancy test: one line indicates that the test is working. If HIV antibodies are present a second line will appear on the indicator strip.
Catch is a medical device with endless possibilities: the clever idea of using, an indicator strip as a disease detector makes it easily replicable with different strips detecting the antibodies of other viruses and diseases. Being able to identify the presence of several viruses would help to decrease the death rate of many viral infections present in the majority of world rural areas.
Despite not being yet manufactured on a large scale, thanks to its potential global impact, Catch has received an overwhelming public response.