Economic evaluation of ART in resource-limited countries

Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2010 May;5(3):225-31. doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e3283384a9d.


Purpose of review: In the face of increasing economic constraints, it is critically important to evaluate how best to utilize available resources. In this article, we review the growing number of cost-effectiveness analyses of HIV treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-limited settings. We focus on studies that evaluate when to start therapy, what therapy to start with and what to switch to based on what criteria.

Recent findings: Recent findings show that earlier ART initiation based on CD4 cell count criteria (CD4 cell counts <350 cells/microl) can be cost effective in most resource-limited settings. They also suggest that initiating ART with tenofovir as a component of the first-line regimen is an efficient use of resources compared with initiating ART with stavudine. Finally, they show that HIV RNA monitoring combined with CD4 monitoring is more effective than CD4 monitoring alone, although this strategy was not yet found to be cost effective in all studies. Nearly all studies demonstrate, however, that the cost-effectiveness ratio of HIV RNA monitoring will become more attractive as the cost of HIV RNA tests and second-line ART regimens decrease.

Summary: Substantial research shows that ART for HIV disease in resource-limited settings is cost effective. Improved initial regimens and increased laboratory monitoring may provide both clinical benefit and good value for money. Further price reductions of laboratory tests and recent antiretroviral drugs are needed to guarantee the cost-effectiveness of these required improvements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenine / economics
  • Adenine / therapeutic use
  • Anti-HIV Agents / economics*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / economics*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Developing Countries
  • Drug Monitoring / methods
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / economics*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Organophosphonates / economics
  • Organophosphonates / therapeutic use
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Stavudine / economics
  • Stavudine / therapeutic use
  • Tenofovir
  • Viral Load / methods


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Organophosphonates
  • RNA, Viral
  • Tenofovir
  • Stavudine
  • Adenine