Objective: To compare the clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness of routine HIV screening in Portugal to the current practice of targeted and on-demand screening.
Design: We used Portuguese national clinical and economic data to conduct a model-based assessment.
Methods: We compared current HIV detection practices to strategies of increasingly frequent routine HIV screening in Portuguese adults aged 18-69. We considered several subpopulations and geographic regions with varying levels of undetected HIV prevalence and incidence. Baseline inputs for the national case included undiagnosed HIV prevalence 0.16%, annual incidence 0.03%, mean population age 43 years, mean CD4 count at care initiation 292 cells/μL, 63% HIV test acceptance, 78% linkage to care, and HIV rapid test cost €6 under the proposed routine screening program. Outcomes included quality-adjusted survival, secondary HIV transmission, cost, and incremental cost-effectiveness.
Results: One-time national HIV screening increased HIV-infected survival from 164.09 quality-adjusted life months (QALMs) to 166.83 QALMs compared to current practice and had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of €28,000 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY). Screening more frequently in higher-risk groups was cost-effective: for example screening annually in men who have sex with men or screening every three years in regions with higher incidence and prevalence produced ICERs of €21,000/QALY and €34,000/QALY, respectively.
Conclusions: One-time HIV screening in the Portuguese national population will increase survival and is cost-effective by international standards. More frequent screening in higher-risk regions and subpopulations is also justified. Given Portugal's challenging economic priorities, we recommend prioritizing screening in higher-risk populations and geographic settings.