Three months ago Binx Health, a Boston-based biotech firm founded in 2005, started taking preorders for its flagship product, the Io, which has been in development for over a decade. It’s a deceptively simple piece of hardware—a white-and-gray box shaped like a sloped right triangle, just under a foot wide and deep and just over a foot tall, with a pink slot for a cartridge and a touch screen. But according to experts like Jeffrey Klausner, an epidemiologist at the University of California–Los Angeles, the Io and a number of similar devices in various states of development could be “a breakthrough in our efforts to prevent and control STIs.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that people worldwide contract 376 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) every year, including 156 million cases of trichomoniasis, 126 million cases of chlamydia, and 87 million cases of gonorrhea—diseases that can be painful in the short term and can contribute to an increased risk of infertility, among other chronic health problems, if left untreated. Rates of transmission in many nations have been on the rise for years. CDC data from 2018 suggests the number of chlamydia infections in the U.S. have doubled since the millennium, while the number of gonorrhea infections have increased by nearly 50% over the past decade.
“We need new tools and strategies to combat this epidemic,” says Klausner. “We’ve lost control.”
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