HIV Treatment and Prevention: A Simple Model to Determine Optimal Investment

Med Decis Making. 2016 Apr;36(3):391-409. doi: 10.1177/0272989X15598528. Epub 2015 Sep 14.


Objective: To create a simple model to help public health decision makers determine how to best invest limited resources in HIV treatment scale-up and prevention.

Method: A linear model was developed for determining the optimal mix of investment in HIV treatment and prevention, given a fixed budget. The model incorporates estimates of secondary health benefits accruing from HIV treatment and prevention and allows for diseconomies of scale in program costs and subadditive benefits from concurrent program implementation. Data sources were published literature. The target population was individuals infected with HIV or at risk of acquiring it. Illustrative examples of interventions include preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), community-based education (CBE), and antiretroviral therapy (ART) for men who have sex with men (MSM) in the US. Outcome measures were incremental cost, quality-adjusted life-years gained, and HIV infections averted.

Results: Base case analysis indicated that it is optimal to invest in ART before PrEP and to invest in CBE before scaling up ART. Diseconomies of scale reduced the optimal investment level. Subadditivity of benefits did not affect the optimal allocation for relatively low implementation levels. The sensitivity analysis indicated that investment in ART before PrEP was optimal in all scenarios tested. Investment in ART before CBE became optimal when CBE reduced risky behavior by 4% or less. Limitations of the study are that dynamic effects are approximated with a static model.

Conclusions: Our model provides a simple yet accurate means of determining optimal investment in HIV prevention and treatment. For MSM in the US, HIV control funds should be prioritized on inexpensive, effective programs like CBE, then on ART scale-up, with only minimal investment in PrEP.

Keywords: AIDS; HIV; cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA); resource allocation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Investments* / economics
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis / economics
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Resource Allocation


  • Anti-HIV Agents