Cost-effectiveness of cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease prevention in patients with AIDS: oral ganciclovir and CMV polymerase chain reaction testing

AIDS. 1997 Jun;11(7):883-7. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199707000-00007.


Objective: To perform a cost-effectiveness analysis of strategies to prevent cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease.

Method: Markov model and published data.

Patients: Hypothetical HIV-infected patients with CD4 cell counts < or = 50 x 10(6)/l and positive CMV serologies.

Interventions: Oral ganciclovir daily versus plasma CMV DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing every 3 months with oral ganciclovir for patients with positive tests.

Outcome measures: The number of CMV disease cases prevented by the interventions, life expectancy, disease-free life expectancy, and the cost to extend life by 1 year.

Results: Oral ganciclovir preventive therapy reduces the lifetime number of CMV disease cases by 50 per 1000 cohort, extends life expectancy by 5 days and disease-free life expectancy by 18 days, and costs US$ 1,762,517 per year of life extended. Periodic PCR testing reduces the lifetime number of CMV disease cases by eight per 1000 cohort, extends life expectancy by 1 day and disease-free life expectancy by 3 days, and costs US$ 495,158 per year of life extended. The prevention strategies could be acceptably cost effective only under a combination of optimistic assumptions and reduced costs.

Conclusions: Oral ganciclovir preventive therapy and periodic plasma testing for CMV PCR with oral ganciclovir for those with positive tests result in small benefits at great cost. They are not cost-effective prevention strategies for persons with advanced HIV infection and positive CMV serologies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / economics
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / prevention & control*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / virology
  • Administration, Oral
  • Antiviral Agents / economics
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / complications
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / economics
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology
  • Ganciclovir / economics
  • Ganciclovir / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction* / economics
  • Survival Analysis


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ganciclovir