Three Teenagers Invented STI-Detecting Condoms

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It’s not a particularly fun question, but asking a sexual partner whether they have any STIs is a necessary part of staying healthy. But what if a condom could tell you everything you needed to know about your partner's sexual history?

For this year’s TeenTech Awards—a U.K-wide science fair designed to encourage and challenge kids ages 11 to 18 to invent new and innovative technology—Musaz Nawaz (13), Daanyaal Ali (14), and Chirag Shah (14) from the Isaac Newton Academy in London won the top prize in the Future of Health category for their STI-detecting condom. Still in its concept phase, the S.T.EYE condom would light up with different colors depending on whether the wearer has an STI.

The technology is based on the HIV ELISA test, which determines the amount of HIV antibodies in a blood or semen sample through a reaction triggered by the antigens present in the petri dish. The reaction causes a color change that varies in saturation depending on the amount of HIV antibodies present in the sample.

In an interview with MTV News, Ali explained, “With our concept, you would have to have the antibodies already attached to the latex of the condom, so once you add the fluid onto the latex, it would then trigger the reaction and cause a color change similar to the HIV test.”

They anticipate that the color change would take about 30 seconds to a minute, and the color that appears would correspond to the STI present. Green would indicate the presence of chlamydia; yellow, herpes; purple, genital warts; and blue, syphilis.

The team’s motivation was to “make something that made detecting harmful STIs safer than ever before, so that people can take immediate action in the privacy of their own homes without the often-scary procedures at the doctors. We’ve made sure we’re able to give peace of mind to users and let people act even more responsibly than ever before,” said Ali.

The team already been approached by a condom manufacturer and has received quite a bit of buzz from the press. Along with the attention, the three teens won £1,000—about $1574—and a trip to Buckingham Palace to receive their award from HGH Duke of York KG.

[h/t MTV News]