Open Access Research article

Is a HIV vaccine a viable option and at what price? An economic evaluation of adding HIV vaccination into existing prevention programs in Thailand

Pattara Leelahavarong1*, Yot Teerawattananon1, Pitsaphun Werayingyong1, Chutima Akaleephan2, Nakorn Premsri3, Chawetsan Namwat3, Wiwat Peerapatanapokin4 and Viroj Tangcharoensathien2

Author Affiliations

1 Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program (HITAP), 6th Floor, 6th Building, Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health, Tiwanon Rd., Amphur Muang, Nonthaburi, Thailand

2 International Health Policy Program (IHPP), Ministry of Public Health, Tiwanon Rd., Amphur Muang, Nonthaburi, Thailand

3 Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Tiwanon Rd., Amphur Muang, Nonthaburi, Thailand

4 East-West Center, Hawaii, U.S.A./Policy Research Development Institute Foundation (PRI), Tiwanon Rd., Amphur Muang, Nonthaburi, Thailand

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:534  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-534

Published: 5 July 2011



This study aims to determine the maximum price at which HIV vaccination is cost-effective in the Thai healthcare setting. It also aims to identify the relative importance of vaccine characteristics and risk behavior changes among vaccine recipients to determine how they affect this cost-effectiveness.


A semi-Markov model was developed to estimate the costs and health outcomes of HIV prevention programs combined with HIV vaccination in comparison to the existing HIV prevention programs without vaccination. The estimation was based on a lifetime horizon period (99 years) and used the government perspective. The analysis focused on both the general population and specific high-risk population groups. The maximum price of cost-effective vaccination was defined by using threshold analysis; one-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed. The study employed an expected value of perfect information (EVPI) analysis to determine the relative importance of parameters and to prioritize future studies.


The most expensive HIV vaccination which is cost-effective when given to the general population was 12,000 Thai baht (US$1 = 34 Thai baht in 2009). This vaccination came with 70% vaccine efficacy and lifetime protection as long as risk behavior was unchanged post-vaccination. The vaccine would be considered cost-ineffective at any price if it demonstrated low efficacy (30%) and if post-vaccination risk behavior increased by 10% or more, especially among the high-risk population groups. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were the most sensitive to change in post-vaccination risk behavior, followed by vaccine efficacy and duration of protection. The EVPI indicated the need to quantify vaccine efficacy, changed post-vaccination risk behavior, and the costs of vaccination programs.


The approach used in this study differentiated it from other economic evaluations and can be applied for the economic evaluation of other health interventions not available in healthcare systems. This study is important not only for researchers conducting future HIV vaccine research but also for policy decision makers who, in the future, will consider vaccine adoption.

Vaccine; HIV; AIDS; Economic evaluation; Cost-utility analysis