Cost-effectiveness of Frequent HIV Screening Among High-risk Young Men Who Have Sex With Men in the United States

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Oct 5;73(7):e1927-e1935. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1061.


Background: Of new HIV infections in the US, 20% occur among young men who have sex with men (YMSM, ages 13-24), but >50% of YMSM with HIV are unaware of their status. Using Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN) data, we projected the clinical benefit and cost-effectiveness of frequent HIV screening among high-risk YMSM from age 15.

Methods: Using a mathematical simulation, we examined 3 screening strategies: Yearly, 6-monthly, and 3-monthly, each in addition to the Status quo (SQ, 0.7-10.3% screened/year, stratified by age). We used published data (YMSM-specific when available) including: HIV incidences (0.91-6.41/100PY); screen acceptance (80%), linkage-to-care/antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation (76%), HIV transmission (0.3-86.1/100PY, by HIV RNA), monthly ART costs ($2290-$3780), and HIV per-screen costs ($38). Projected outcomes included CD4 count at diagnosis, primary HIV transmissions from ages 15-30, quality-adjusted life expectancy, costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs, $/quality-adjusted life-year saved [QALY]; threshold ≤$100 000/QALY).

Results: Compared to SQ, all strategies increased projected CD4 at diagnosis (296 to 477-515 cells/µL) and quality-adjusted life expectancy from age 15 (44.4 to 48.3-48.7 years) among YMSM acquiring HIV. Compared to SQ, all strategies increased discounted lifetime cost for the entire population ($170 800 to $178 100-$185 000/person). Screening 3-monthly was cost-effective (ICER: $4500/QALY) compared to SQ and reduced primary transmissions through age 30 by 40%. Results were most sensitive to transmission rates; excluding the impact of transmissions, screening Yearly was ≤$100 000/QALY (ICER: $70 900/QALY).

Conclusions: For high-risk YMSM in the US, HIV screening 3-monthly compared to less frequent screening will improve clinical outcomes and be cost-effective.

Keywords: HIV; Young men who have sex with men; adolescents and young adults; cost-effectiveness; screening.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • HIV Infections* / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult