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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 13;12(11):e0186131. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186131. eCollection 2017.

Modelling the cost-effectiveness of HIV care shows a clear benefit when transmission risk is considered in the calculations - A message for Central and Eastern Europe.

Author information

Department of Adults' Infectious Diseases, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.
HIV Out-Patients Clinic, Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.
HTA Consulting, Cracow, Poland.
Foundation of Social Education (FES), Warsaw, Poland.
Gilead Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.



HIV epidemic remains a major global health issue. Data from cost-effectiveness analyses base on CD4+ count and morbidity in patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic HIV infection. The approach adopted in these analyses includes many other factors, previously not investigated. Additionally, we evaluate the impact of sexual HIV transmission due to delayed cART on the cost-effectiveness of care.


A lifetime Markov model (1-month cycle) was developed to estimate the cost per quality adjusted life years (QALY) for a 1- and 3-year delay in starting cART (as compared to starting immediately at linkage to care) lifetime costs, clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness. Patients were categorized into having asymptomatic HIV, AIDS, Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and non-AIDS defining condition. Mortality rates and utility values were obtained from published literature. The number of new infected persons was estimated on the basis of sexual orientation, the number of sexual partners per year, the number of sex acts per month, frequency of condom use and use of cART. For the input Test and Keep in Care (TAK) project cohort data were used. Costs of care, cART and potential life-years lost were based on estimated total costs and the difference in expected QALY gained between an HIV-positive and an average person in Polish population. Costs were based on real expenditures of the Ministry of Health, National Health Fund, available studies and experts' opinion. Costs and effects were discounted at rates of 5% and 3.5%, respectively.


Input data were available for 141 patients form TAK cohort. The estimated number of new HIV infections in low, medium and high risk transmission groups were 0.28, 0.61, 2.07 with 1 and 0.82, 1.80, 6.11 with a 3-year delay, respectively. This reflected QALY loss due to cART delay of 0.52, 1.13, 3.84 and 2.02, 4.43, 15.03 for a 1- and 3-year delay, respectively. If additional costs of treatment and potential life-years lost due to new HIV infections were not taken into account, initiating cART immediately at linkage to care was not cost-saving irrespective of cART delay. Otherwise, when additional costs and QALY lost due to new HIV infections were included, immediate cART initiation was cost-saving regardless of the chosen scenarios.


If new HIV infections are not taken into account, then starting cART immediately does not dominate comparing to delaying cART. When taking into account HIV transmission in cost-effectiveness analysis, immediate initiation of HIV treatment is a profitable decision from the public payer's perspective.

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