Like diabetics, HIV patients may soon be able to monitor their own condition at home using a hand-held device.
Researchers at three of London's largest research centres are developing a hi-tech, finger prick blood-testing gadget.
The device's tiny mechanical sensors - microcantilever arrays - measure HIV levels to warn of impending flare-ups. A display then alerts the user if there is any need for them to visit a doctor.
"If patients neglect to take their treatments or need prompting to see their GP the device will provide a simple way of letting them know," the BBC quoted investigator Dr Anna-Maria Goretti, an NHS consultant and co-investigator based at the Royal Free Hospital, as saying.
"It will really empower HIV patients to keep a close eye on their health and their treatments," Goretti added.
Researchers said that apart from reducing visits to the doctor, the device could also be of real benefit in developing countries where rapid and affordable ways to monitor HIV patients are urgently needed.
The microcantilever arrays are each coated with substances that stick to the HIV and other proteins, which are markers associated with disease progression.
Lead investigator Dr Rachel McKendry of University College London and the London Centre for Nanotechnology, said that accommodating these markers causes the highly-sensitive sensors to bend like a diving board and this bend indicates the level of virus in the body.
"We have used microcantilever arrays to investigate drug resistance in superbugs such as MRSA, and are excited by the opportunity to extend this approach to detecting HIV markers," she said.
Dr McKendry has collaborated with researchers at the Imperial College London, Cambridge Medical Innovations, Sphere Medical Ltd and BionanoConsulting to develop the prototype hand-held device for clinical trials.