Exploring the Potential Health Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of AIDS Vaccine within a Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Response in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

PLoS One. 2016 Jan 5;11(1):e0146387. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146387. eCollection 2016.


Background: The Investment Framework Enhanced (IFE) proposed in 2013 by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) explored how maximizing existing interventions and adding emerging prevention options, including a vaccine, could further reduce new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This article describes additional modeling which looks more closely at the potential health impact and cost-effectiveness of AIDS vaccination in LMICs as part of UNAIDS IFE.

Methods: An epidemiological model was used to explore the potential impact of AIDS vaccination in LMICs in combination with other interventions through 2070. Assumptions were based on perspectives from research, vaccination and public health experts, as well as observations from other HIV/AIDS interventions and vaccination programs. Sensitivity analyses varied vaccine efficacy, duration of protection, coverage, and cost.

Results: If UNAIDS IFE goals were fully achieved, new annual HIV infections in LMICs would decline from 2.0 million in 2014 to 550,000 in 2070. A 70% efficacious vaccine introduced in 2027 with three doses, strong uptake and five years of protection would reduce annual new infections by 44% over the first decade, by 65% the first 25 years and by 78% to 122,000 in 2070. Vaccine impact would be much greater if the assumptions in UNAIDS IFE were not fully achieved. An AIDS vaccine would be cost-effective within a wide range of scenarios.

Interpretation: Even a modestly effective vaccine could contribute strongly to a sustainable response to HIV/AIDS and be cost-effective, even with optimistic assumptions about other interventions. Higher efficacy would provide even greater impact and cost-effectiveness, and would support broader access. Vaccine efficacy and cost per regimen are critical in achieving cost-effectiveness, with cost per regimen being particularly critical in low-income countries and at lower efficacy levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / economics*
  • AIDS Vaccines / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / economics
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / economics*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Poverty
  • Public Health / economics*


  • AIDS Vaccines

Grants and funding

The study was funded through the generous support of the American people by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under Cooperative Agreement No. AID-OAA-A-11-00020. The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.