Estimated Lifetime HIV-Related Medical Costs in the United States

Sex Transm Dis. 2021 Apr 1;48(4):299-304. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000001366.


Background: Lifetime cost estimates are a useful tool in measuring the economic burden of HIV in the United States. Previous estimation methods need to be updated, given improving antiretroviral therapy regimens and updated costs.

Methods: We used an updated version of the agent-based model progression and transmission of HIV (PATH) 3.0 to reflect current regimens and costs. We simulated a cohort of those infected in 2015 until the last person had died to track the lifetime costs for treatment of HIV, including HIV health care utilization costs (inpatient, outpatient, opportunistic infection prophylaxis, non-HIV medication, and emergency department), opportunistic infection treatment costs, and testing costs. We assumed a median per-person diagnosis delay of 3 years and a 3% base monthly probability of dropout from care for a base-case scenario. Additionally, we modeled a most favorable scenario (median diagnosis delay of 1 year and 1% base dropout rate) and a least favorable scenario (median diagnosis delay of 5 years and 5% base dropout rate).

Results: We estimated an average lifetime HIV-related medical cost for a person with HIV of $420,285 (2019 US$) discounted (3%) and $1,079,999 undiscounted for a median 3-year diagnosis delay and 3% base dropout rate. Our discounted cost estimate was $490,045 in our most favorable scenario and $326,411 in our least favorable scenario.

Conclusions: Lifetime per-person HIV-related medical costs depend on the time from infection to diagnosis and the likelihood of dropping out of care. Our results, which are similar to previous studies, reflect updated antiretroviral therapy regimens and costs for HIV treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • HIV Infections* / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • United States / epidemiology