State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) provide antiretroviral medications to patients with no access to medications. Resource constraints limit the ability of many ADAPs to meet demand for services.Objective:
To determine ADAP eligibility criteria that minimize morbidity and mortality and contain costs.Methods:
We used Discrete Event Simulation to model the progression of HIV-infected patients and track the utilization of an ADAP. Outcomes included 5-year mortality and incidence of first opportunistic infection or death and time to starting antiretroviral therapy (ART). We compared expected outcomes for 2 policies: (1) first-come first-served (FCFS) eligibility for all with CD4 count ≤350/μL (current standard) and (2) CD4 count prioritized eligibility for those with CD4 counts below a defined threshold.Results:
In the base case, prioritizing patients with CD4 counts ≤250/μL led to lower 5-year mortality than FCFS eligibility (2.77 vs. 3.27 deaths per 1000 person-months) and to a lower incidence of first opportunistic infection or death (5.55 vs. 6.98 events per 1000 person-months). CD4-based eligibility reduced the time to starting ART for patients with CD4 counts ≤200/μL. In sensitivity analyses, CD4-based eligibility consistently led to lower morbidity and mortality than FCFS eligibility.Conclusion:
When resources are limited, programs that provide ART can improve outcomes by prioritizing patients with low CD4 counts.