Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Medicine and BioMed Central.

Journal App

google play app store
Open Access Research article

Comparative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy and pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention in South Africa

Sabina S Alistar1*, Philip M Grant2 and Eran Bendavid234

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

2 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

3 Division of General Medical Disciplines, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

4 Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Medicine 2014, 12:46  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-46

Published: 17 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) and oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are effective in reducing HIV transmission in heterosexual adults. The epidemiologic impact and cost-effectiveness of combined prevention approaches in resource-limited settings remain unclear.

Methods

We develop a dynamic mathematical model of the HIV epidemic in South Africa’s adult population. We assume ART reduces HIV transmission by 95% and PrEP by 60%. We model two ART strategies: scaling up access for those with CD4 counts ≤ 350 cells/μL (Guidelines) and for all identified HIV-infected individuals (Universal). PrEP strategies include use in the general population (General) and in high-risk individuals (Focused). We consider strategies where ART, PrEP, or both are scaled up to 100% of remaining eligible individuals yearly. We measure infections averted, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios over 20 years.

Results

Scaling up ART to 50% of eligible individuals averts 1,513,000 infections over 20 years (Guidelines) and 3,591,000 infections (Universal). Universal ART is the most cost-effective strategy at any scale ($160-$220/QALY versus comparable scale Guidelines ART expansion). General PrEP is costly and provides limited benefits beyond ART scale-up ($7,680/QALY to add 100% PrEP to 50% Universal ART). Cost-effectiveness of General PrEP becomes less favorable when ART is widely given ($12,640/QALY gained when added to 100% Universal ART). If feasible, Focused PrEP is cost saving or highly cost effective versus status quo and when added to ART strategies.

Conclusions

Expanded ART coverage to individuals in early disease stages may be more cost-effective than current guidelines. PrEP can be cost-saving if delivered to individuals at increased risk of infection.

Keywords:
ART; Cost-effectiveness analysis; HIV epidemic; Oral pre-exposure prophylaxis