Initiating antiretroviral therapy for HIV at a patient's first clinic visit: a cost-effectiveness analysis of the rapid initiation of treatment randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

Objective:

Determine the cost and cost-effectiveness of single-visit (same-day) antiretroviral treatment (ART) initiation compared to standard of care initiation.

Design:

Cost-effectiveness analysis of individually randomized (1 : 1) pragmatic trial of single-visit initiation, which increased viral suppression at 10 months by 26% [relative risk (95% confidence interval) 1.26 (1.05–1.50)].

Setting:

Primary health clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Study participants:

HIV positive, adult, nonpregnant patients not yet on ART or known to be eligible who presented at the clinic 8 May 2013 to 29 August 2014.

Intervention:

Same-day ART initiation using point-of-care laboratory instruments and accelerated clinic procedures to allow treatment-eligible patients to receive antiretroviral medications at the same visit as testing HIV positive or having an eligible CD4+ cell count. Comparison was to standard of care ART initiation, which typically required three to five additional clinic visits.

Main outcome measure(s):

Average cost per patient enrolled and per patient achieving the primary outcome of initiated 90 days or less and suppressed 10 months or less, and production cost per patient achieving primary outcome (all costs per primary outcome patients).

Results:

The average cost per patient enrolled, per patient achieving the primary outcome, and production cost were $319, $487, and $738 in the standard arm and $451, $505, and $707 in the rapid arm.

Conclusion:

Same-day treatment initiation was more effective than standard initiation, more expensive per patient enrolled, and less expensive to produce a patient achieving the primary outcome. Omitting point-of-care laboratory tests at initiation and focusing on high-volume clinics have the potential to reduce costs substantially and should be evaluated in routine settings.

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