Teenage Boys Invent Condom That Detects STDs

Three teenage boys in the U.K. have invented a condom that changes color when it comes in contact with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Daanyaal Ali, 14, Muaz Nawaz, 13, and Chirag Shah, 14, all students at Isaac Newton Academy in Ilford, just north of London, have won the health category at the TeenTech Awards in London for their invention. 

This is an annual competition created to inspire 11 – 16-year-olds to realize “their true potential and the real opportunities available in the contemporary STEM workplace.”

Condoms That Glow In The Dark

The condom, called S.T.EYE, would have molecules in the rubber that would glow when it comes in contact with different bacteria: it would glow green for chlamydia, yellow for herpes, purple for human papillomavirus (HPV), and blue for syphilis.

Ali explained: “We created the S.T.EYE as a new way for STI detection to help the future of the next generation.” 

He went on: “We wanted 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 invasive procedures at the doctors.”

“We’ve made sure we’re able to give peace of mind to users and make sure people can be even more responsible than ever before.”

He sounds more mature than many of the 14-year-olds I encounter in my classroom, although I wonder if he and his fellow inventors have thought about the conversation that follows the discovery of a condom changing color? 

Alarming Increase In Rate Of STIs

This is great news in light of the alarming increase in the rate of STIs on both sides of the Atlantic. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are nearly 20 million new cases of STIs every year in the U.S., with many cases undiagnosed or unreported. 

Half of these are among people ages 15 – 24, and account for almost $16 billion in health care costs.

In the U.K., the picture is very similar: in 2014, the latest year for which figures are available, there were 440,000 new cases of STDs, the biggest numbers being heterosexuals under 25, and men who have sex with men.
Each of these infections is a potential threat to an individual’s immediate and long-term health and well-being. 

In addition to increasing a person’s risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV infection, STDs can lead to severe reproductive health complications, such as infertility and ectopic pregnancy. 

That’s why this invention is brilliant: we have yet to see how well it will work, since right now it’s only an idea and a prototype has yet to be produced. 

But it is forcing awareness of the alarming rise in the number of STDs, and making people think about ways to prevent them. 

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