Costs of implementing community-based intervention for HIV testing in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review

Implement Sci Commun. 2021 Jul 5;2(1):73. doi: 10.1186/s43058-021-00177-y.


Background: Community-based interventions (CBIs) are interventions aimed at improving the well-being of people in a community. CBIs for HIV testing seek to increase the availability of testing services to populations that have been identified as at high risk by reaching them in homes, schools, or community centers. However, evidence for a detailed cost analysis of these community-based interventions in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is limited. We conducted a systematic review of the cost analysis of HIV testing interventions in SSA.

Methods: Keyword search was conducted on SCOPUS, CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Global Health databases. Three categories of key terms used were cost (implementation cost OR cost-effectiveness OR cost analysis OR cost-benefit OR marginal cost), intervention (HIV testing), and region (sub-Saharan Africa OR sub-Saharan Africa OR SSA). CBI studies were included if they primarily focused on HIV testing, was implemented in SSA, and used micro-costing or ingredients approach.

Results: We identified 1533 citations. After screening, ten studies were included in the review: five from East Africa and five from Southern Africa. Two studies conducted cost-effectiveness analysis, and one study was a cost-utility analysis. The remainder seven studies were cost analyses. Four intervention types were identified: HIV self-testing (HIVST), home-based, mobile, and Provider Initiated Testing and Counseling. Commonly costed resources included personnel (n = 9), materials and equipment (n = 6), and training (n = 5). Cost outcomes reported included total intervention cost (n = 9), cost per HIV test (n = 9), cost per diagnosis (n = 5), and cost per linkage to care (n = 3). Overall, interventions were implemented at a higher cost than controls, with the largest cost difference with HIVST compared to facility-based testing.

Conclusion: To better inform policy, there is an urgent need to evaluate the costs associated with implementing CBIs in SSA. It is important for cost reports to be detailed, uniform, and informed by economic evaluation guidelines. This approach minimizes biases that may lead decision-makers to underestimate the resources required to scale up, sustain, or reproduce successful interventions in other settings. In an evolving field of implementation research, this review contributes to current resources on implementation cost studies.

Keywords: Economic evaluation; HIV testing; Implementation cost.

Publication types

  • Review