The clinical impact and cost-effectiveness of routine, voluntary HIV screening in South Africa

Rochelle P. Walensky, Robin Wood, Mariam O. Fofana, Neil A. Martinson, Elena Losina, Michael D. April, Ingrid V. Bassett, Bethany L. Morris, Kenneth A. Freedberg, A. David Paltiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background:: Although 900,000 HIV-infected South Africans receive antiretroviral therapy, the majority of South Africans with HIV remain undiagnosed. Methods: We use a published simulation model of HIV case detection and treatment to examine 3 HIV screening scenarios, in addition to current practice as follows: (1) one-time; (2) every 5 years; and (3) annually. South African model input data include the following: 16.9% HIV prevalence, 1.3% annual incidence, 49% test acceptance rate, HIV testing costs of $6.49/patient, and a 47% linkage-to-care rate (including 2 sequential antiretroviral therapy regimens) for identified cases. Outcomes include life expectancy, direct medical costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness. Results: HIV screening one-time, every 5 years, and annually increase HIV-infected quality-adjusted life expectancy (mean age 33 years) from 180.6 months (current practice) to 184.9, 187.6, and 197.2 months. The incremental cost-effectiveness of one-time screening is dominated by screening every 5 years. Screening every 5 years and annually each have incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of $1570/quality-adjusted life year and $1720/quality-adjusted life year. Screening annually is very cost-effective even in settings with the lowest incidence/prevalence, with test acceptance and linkage rates both as low as 20%, or when accounting for a stigma impact at least four-fold that of the base case. Conclusions: In South Africa, annual voluntary HIV screening offers substantial clinical benefit and is very cost-effective, even with highly constrained access to care and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-35
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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