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Clin Infect Dis. 2012 May;54(10):1504-13. doi: 10.1093/cid/cis225. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

The cost-effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV infection in South African women.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



Recent trials report the short-term efficacy of tenofovir-based pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. PrEP's long-term impact on patient outcomes, population-level transmission, and cost-effectiveness remains unknown.


We linked data from recent trials to a computer model of HIV acquisition, screening, and care to project lifetime HIV risk, life expectancy (LE), costs, and cost-effectiveness, using 2 PrEP-related strategies among heterosexual South African women: (1) women receiving no PrEP and (2) women not receiving PrEP (a tenofovir-based vaginal microbicide). We used a South African clinical cohort and published data to estimate population demographic characteristics, age-adjusted incidence of HIV infection, and HIV natural history and treatment parameters. Baseline PrEP efficacy (percentage reduction in HIV transmission) was 39% at a monthly cost of $5 per woman. Alternative parameter values were examined in sensitivity analyses.


Among South African women, PrEP reduced mean lifetime HIV risk from 40% to 27% and increased population discounted (undiscounted) LE from 22.51 (41.66) to 23.48 (44.48) years. Lifetime costs of care increased from $7280 to $9890 per woman, resulting in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $2700/year of life saved, and may, under optimistic assumptions, achieve cost savings. Under baseline HIV infection incidence assumptions, PrEP was not cost saving, even assuming an efficacy >60% and a cost <$1. At an HIV infection incidence of 9.1%/year, PrEP achieved cost savings at efficacies ≥50%.


PrEP in South African women is very cost-effective by South African standards, conferring excellent value under virtually all plausible data scenarios. Although optimistic assumptions would be required to achieve cost savings, these represent important benchmarks for future PrEP study design.

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