Brogan AJ, Talbird SE, Davis AE, Wild L, Flanagan D. Is increased screening and early antiretroviral treatment for HIV-1 worth the investment? An analysis of the public health and economic impact of improvement in the UK. HIV Med. 2019 Aug 8. doi: 10.1111/hiv.12788.

OBJECTIVES: Early treatment of HIV-1 infection at all CD4 levels has demonstrated clinical and public health benefits. This analysis examined the costs, health outcomes, and cost-effectiveness of increased HIV-1 screening and early treatment initiation in the UK.

METHODS: A Markov model followed theoretical cohorts of men who have sex with men (MSM), heterosexuals, and people who inject drugs (PWID) with initially undiagnosed HIV-1 infection over their remaining lifetimes. The analysis examined increased HIV-1 screening (resulting in 10-50% improvements in diagnosis rates) versus current screening in sexual health services (SHS) and other settings, with all individuals initiating treatment within 3 months of diagnosis. Health status was modelled by viral load and CD4 cell count as individuals progressed to diagnosis and treatment. Individuals accrued quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), incurred costs for screening and HIV-related clinical management, and were at risk of transmitting HIV-1 infection to their partners. Input parameter data were taken primarily from UK-specific published sources. All outcomes were discounted at 3.5% annually.

RESULTS: The model estimated that increased screening and early treatment resulted in fewer onward HIV transmissions, more QALYs, and higher total costs. For SHS, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for heterosexuals (~£22 000/QALY gained) were within typical UK willingness-to-pay thresholds and were well below these thresholds for MSM (~£9500/QALY gained) and PWID (~£6500/QALY gained). Sensitivity analysis showed that model results were robust.

CONCLUSIONS: Increased HIV-1 screening and early treatment initiation may be a cost-effective strategy to reduce HIV transmission and improve health for MSM, heterosexuals, and PWID in the UK.

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