Do Less Harm: Evaluating HIV Programmatic Alternatives in Response to Cutbacks in Foreign Aid

Annals of Internal Medicine
7 November 2017 Vol: 167, Issue 9

Do Less Harm: Evaluating HIV Programmatic Alternatives in Response to Cutbacks in Foreign Aid
Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH; Ethan D. Borre, BA; Linda-Gail Bekker, MD, PhD; Emily P. Hyle, MD, MSc; Gregg S. Gonsalves, PhD; Robin Wood, MMed, DSc (Med); Serge P. Eholié, MD, MSc; Milton C. Weinstein, PhD; Xavier Anglaret, MD, PhD; Kenneth A. Freedberg, MD, MSc; A. David Paltiel, PhD, MBA
Resource-limited nations must consider their response to potential contractions in international support for HIV programs.
To evaluate the clinical, epidemiologic, and budgetary consequences of alternative HIV program scale-back strategies in 2 recipient nations, the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and Côte d’Ivoire (CI).
Model-based comparison between current standard (CD4 count at presentation of 0.260 × 109 cells/L, universal antiretroviral therapy [ART] eligibility, and 5-year retention rate of 84%) and scale-back alternatives, including reduced HIV detection, no ART or delayed initiation (when CD4 count is <0.350 × 109 cells/L), reduced investment in retention, and no viral load monitoring or second-line ART.
Data Sources:
Published RSA- and CI-specific estimates of the HIV care continuum, ART efficacy, and HIV-related costs.
Target Population:
HIV-infected persons, including future incident cases.
Time Horizon:
5 and 10 years.
Modified societal perspective, excluding time and productivity costs.
Outcome Measures:
HIV transmissions and deaths, years of life, and budgetary outlays (2015 U.S. dollars).
Results of Base-Case Analysis:
At 10 years, scale-back strategies increase projected HIV transmissions by 0.5% to 19.4% and deaths by 0.6% to 39.1%. Strategies can produce budgetary savings of up to 30% but no more. Compared with the current standard, nearly every scale-back strategy produces proportionally more HIV deaths (and transmissions, in RSA) than savings. When the least harmful and most efficient alternatives for achieving budget cuts of 10% to 20% are applied, every year of life lost will save roughly $900 in HIV-related outlays in RSA and $600 to $900 in CI.
Results of Sensitivity Analysis:
Scale-back programs, when combined, may result in clinical and budgetary synergies and offsets.
The magnitude and details of budget cuts are not yet known, nor is the degree to which other international partners might step in to restore budget shortfalls.
Scaling back international aid to HIV programs will have severe adverse clinical consequences; for similar economic savings, certain programmatic scale-back choices result in less harm than others.
Primary Funding Source:
National Institutes of Health and Steve and Deborah Gorlin MGH Research Scholars Award.