Teens Invent Condom That Turns Colors Near STDs

Glow-in-the-dark prophylactic emits different hue for each detected disease
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2015 8:23 AM CDT
Teens Invent Condom That Turns Colors Near STDs
OK, they've changed colors. Now what?   (Shutterstock)

Three young teens from the UK are among the brightest, most colorful students at London's Isaac Newton Academy—and so are their condoms. Two 14-year-olds and a 13-year-old took home the top health prize of the TeenTech Awards for designing a condom that not only glows in the dark when in contact with sexually transmitted diseases, but also turns a different color depending on what STD is encountered, Medical Daily reports. "We knew that STIs [sexually transmitted infections] were a huge problem in the UK," 14-year-old Daanyaal Ali tells the Washington Post. "We saw a gap in the market and we wanted to help people feel safer." And the market he's talking about for the ST Eye prophylactic appears to be in need of such a device: A 2013 CDC report says more than 20 million new STDs crop up each year in the US, generating $16 billion in direct health-care costs.

The ST Eye features implanted molecules that glow under low light when in contact with bacteria and viruses that cause a variety of infections, per Medical Daily. There's even a different color for each disease: green for chlamydia, yellow for herpes, purple for HPV, and blue for syphilis. But the Daily Dot notes a few issues that may slow this concept from going to market, including people freaking out when the condom starts glowing. And there are more questions from the Post, such as what color the condom would glow in the presence of multiple diseases, as well as which person's STDs would be detected. Another desirable quality, though, if the boys can get a condom company to work with them (and the Post says some have already come calling): Users can discover STDs "in the privacy of their own homes without the invasive procedures at the doctors," Daanyaal tells the Independent. (Prove you don't have an STD with this app.)

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