Objectives/design: As antiretroviral therapy (ART) rapidly expands in sub-Saharan Africa using new efficient care models, data on costs of these approaches are lacking. We examined costs of a streamlined HIV care delivery model within a large HIV test-and-treat study in Uganda and Kenya.
Methods: We calculated observed per-person-per-year (ppy) costs of streamlined care in 17 health facilities in SEARCH Study intervention communities (NCT: 01864603) via micro-costing techniques, time-and-motion studies, staff interviews, and administrative records. Cost categories included salaries, ART, viral load testing, recurring goods/services, and fixed capital/facility costs. We then modeled costs under three increasingly efficient scale-up scenarios: lowest-cost ART, centralized viral load testing, and governmental healthcare worker salaries. We assessed the relationship between community-specific ART delivery costs, retention in care, and viral suppression.
Results: Estimated streamlined HIV care delivery costs were $291/ppy. ART ($117/ppy for TDF/3TC/EFV [40%]) and viral load testing ($110/ppy for 2 tests/year [39%]) dominated costs versus salaries ($51/ppy), recurring costs ($5/ppy), and fixed costs ($7/ppy). Optimized ART scale-up with lowest-cost ART ($100/ppy), annual viral load testing ($24/ppy), and governmental healthcare salaries ($27/ppy), lowered streamlined care cost to $163/ppy. We found clinic-to-clinic heterogeneity in retention and viral suppression levels versus streamlined care delivery costs, but no correlation between cost and either retention or viral suppression.
Conclusions: In the SEARCH Study, streamlined HIV care delivery costs were similar to or lower than prior estimates despite including viral load testing; further optimizations could substantially reduce costs further. These data can inform global strategies for financing ART expansion to achieve UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets.