Cost-effectiveness of point-of-care testing with task-shifting for HIV care in South Africa: a modelling study.
The number of people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) requiring treatment monitoring in low-resource settings is rapidly increasing. Point-of-care (POC) testing for ART monitoring might alleviate burden on centralised laboratories and improve clinical outcomes, but its cost-effectiveness is unknown.We used cost and effectiveness data from the STREAM trial in South Africa (February, 2017-October, 2018), which evaluated POC testing for viral load, CD4 count, and creatinine, with task shifting from professional to lower-cadre registered nurses compared with laboratory-based testing without task shifting (standard of care). We parameterised an agent-based network model, EMOD-HIV, to project the impact of implementing this intervention in South Africa over 20 years, simulating approximately 175 000 individuals per run. We assumed POC monitoring increased viral suppression by 9 percentage points, enrolment into community-based ART delivery by 25 percentage points, and switching to second-line ART by 1 percentage point compared with standard of care, as reported in the STREAM trial. We evaluated POC implementation in varying clinic sizes (10-50 patient initiating ART per month). We calculated incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) and report the mean and 90% model variability of 250 runs, using a cost-effectiveness threshold of US$500 per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) averted for our main analysis.POC testing at 70% coverage of patients on ART was projected to reduce HIV infections by 4·5% (90% model variability 1·6 to 7·6) and HIV-related deaths by 3·9% (2·0 to 6·0). In clinics with 30 ART initiations per month, the intervention had an ICER of $197 (90% model variability -27 to 863) per DALY averted; results remained cost-effective when varying background viral suppression, ART dropout, intervention effectiveness, and reduction in HIV transmissibility. At higher clinic volumes (≥40 ART initiations per month), POC testing was cost-saving and at lower clinic volumes (20 ART initiations per month) the ICER was $734 (93 to 2569). A scenario that assumed POC testing did not increase enrolment into community ART delivery produced ICERs that exceeded the cost-effectiveness threshold for all clinic volumes.POC testing is a promising strategy to cost-effectively improve patient outcomes in moderately sized clinics in South Africa. Results are most sensitive to changes in intervention impact on enrolment into community-based ART delivery.National Institutes of Health.