Objective: To evaluate costs and outcomes of cesarean section performed before onset of labor and before rupture of membranes (elective cesarean section) compared to vaginal delivery among HIV-infected women.
Design: Cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis.
Participants and setting: Pregnant HIV-infected women in the US who refrain from breastfeeding.
Intervention: Elective cesarean section versus vaginal delivery by antiretroviral therapy regimen.
Main outcome measures: Pediatric HIV cases avoided, years of life saved, and direct medical costs for maternal interventions and pediatric HIV treatment.
Results: Elective cesarean section (versus vaginal delivery) was cost-effective among women receiving zidovudine prophylaxis (US$1131 per case avoided, US$17 per year of life saved) and combination antiretroviral therapy (US$112693 per case avoided, US$1697 per year of life saved), and cost saving among women receiving no antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy (benefit-cost ratio of 2.23). Although elective cesarean section remained cost-effective, results were sensitive to variations in vertical transmission rates and to pediatric HIV treatment costs. Population-based analyses indicated that elective cesarean section could prevent 239 pediatric HIV cases annually with a savings of over US$4 million.
Conclusions: Elective cesarean section is a cost-effective intervention to prevent vertical transmission of HIV among women receiving various antiretroviral therapy regimens, who refrain from breastfeeding.