BACKGROUND: Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) constitutes a significant source of mortality in resource-limited regions. Cryptococcal antigen (CRAG) can be detected in the blood before onset of meningitis. We sought to determine the cost-effectiveness of implementing CRAG screening using the recently developed CRAG lateral flow assay in Uganda compared to current practice without screening.
METHODS: A decision-analytic model was constructed to compare two strategies for cryptococcal prevention among people living with HIV with CD4 < 100 in Uganda: No cryptococcal screening vs. CRAG screening with WHO-recommended preemptive treatment for CRAG-positive patients. The model was constructed to reflect primary HIV clinics in Uganda, with a cohort of HIV-infected patients with CD4 < 100 cells/uL. Primary outcomes were expected costs, DALYs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). We evaluated varying levels of programmatic implementation in secondary analysis.
RESULTS: CRAG screening was considered highly cost-effective and was associated with an ICER of $6.14 per DALY averted compared to no screening (95% uncertainty range: $-20.32 to $36.47). Overall, implementation of CRAG screening was projected to cost $1.52 more per person, and was projected to result in a 40% relative reduction in cryptococcal-associated mortality. In probabilistic sensitivity analysis, CRAG screening was cost-effective in 100% of scenarios and cost saving (ie cheaper and more effective than no screening) in 30% of scenarios. Secondary analysis projected a total cost of $651,454 for 100% implementation of screening nationally, while averting 1228 deaths compared to no screening.
CONCLUSION: CRAG screening for PLWH with low CD4 represents excellent value for money with the potential to prevent cryptococcal morbidity and mortality in Uganda.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases