Objectives: In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended routine human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening for people aged 13 to 64 years in all U.S. health-care settings. Earlier recommendations focused on those at high risk for HIV and included more extensive pretest counseling. HIV screening may also involve either rapid or conventional testing. The purpose of this research was to estimate the costs of these different testing procedures and the cost per HIV-infected patient correctly receiving test results in three health-care scenarios that illustrated these policy differences.
Methods: The study estimated the costs of rapid and conventional HIV testing in the following scenarios: (1) sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic counseling and testing (CT), (2) STD clinic screening, and (3) emergency department (ED) screening. Costs were estimated from the provider perspective in 2006 dollars. A decision analytic model was developed to estimate the cost per HIV-infected patient notified of test results using the two testing procedures in the three scenarios.
Results: Although the complete rapid testing procedure was more expensive than conventional testing, the cost per HIV-infected patient receiving test results was lower for the rapid test compared with conventional testing in all scenarios. Per-patient costs of receiving results were lowest in the ED screening scenario and highest in the STD CT scenario. These costs were sensitive to changes in test costs, HIV prevalence, and return rates following conventional tests.
Conclusion: HIV screening in general health-care settings is economically feasible, particularly with rapid tests that lower the cost of HIV-infected patients receiving their test results.