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HIV Prevention Programs on a Massive Scale Turn Out Economical

HIV prevention programs in low and middle-income countries can turn out economical if they are run on a massive scale . This conclusion was reached by A UCSF-led team of researchers. They examined the large prevention programs underway in countries like India, South Africa, Uganda, Russia and Mexico. They not only saw the unit cost of the program drop but also saw that the efficiency of the program was much enhanced.

With the recent report from the Global HIV Prevention Working Group urging that funding for proven prevention programming double over the next three years, leading to billions of dollars in spending, we show that this additional funding could not only increase capacity but potentially also increase efficiency by lowering unit costs of prevention services. This means that more HIV infections may be averted, said the studys principal investigator, James G. Kahn, MD, MPH, professor at UCSFs Institute for Health Policy Studies and AIDS Research Institute.

In the study, published in the online open access journal BMC Health Services Research, researchers examined six types of ongoing prevention interventions: voluntary counseling and testing, programs targeting sex workers, treatment for curable sexually transmitted diseases, information, education and communication initiatives, risk reduction programs for injection drug users and programs preventing transmission of HIV from mother to child.

We found that, on average, each doubling of scale of a prevention program reduced unit costs by a third. Although our analysis is broadsome programs are inefficient because they are small while some programs are small because they are not well managedrapidly ramping up well-run existing programs could have an immediate, startling effect in improving efficiency, reducing costs and containing the epidemic, said the studys lead author, Elliot Marseille, DrPH, MPP, a researcher at UCSFs Institute for Health Policy Studies.

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