Introduction Emerging data suggest that early antiretroviral therapy (ART) could reduce serious AIDS and non-AIDS events and deaths but could also increase costs. In January 2016, the Spanish guidelines were updated to recommend ART at any CD4 count. However, the epidemiologic and economic impacts of early ART initiation in Spain remain unclear. Methods The Johns Hopkins HIV Economic-Epidemiologic Mathematical Model (JHEEM) was utilized to estimate costs, transmissions, and outcomes in Spain over 20 years. We compared implementation of guidelines for early ART initiation to a counterfactual scenario deferring ART until CD4-counts fall below 350 cells/mm3. We additionally studied the impact of early ART initiation in combination with improvements to HIV screening, care linkage and engagement. Results Early ART initiation (irrespective of CD4-count) is expected to avert 20,100 [95% Uncertainty Range (UR) 11,100–83,000] new HIV cases over the next two decades compared to delayed ART (28% reduction), at an incremental health system cost of €1.05 billion [€0.66 – €1.63] billion, and an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of €29,700 [€13,700 – €41,200] per QALY gained. Projected ICERs declined further over longer time horizon; e.g., an ICER of €12,691 over 30 years. Furthermore, the impact of early ART initiation was potentiated by improved HIV screening among high-risk individuals, averting an estimated 41,600 [23,200–172,200] HIV infections (a 58% decline) compared to delayed ART. Conclusions Recommendations for ART initiation irrespective of CD4-counts are cost-effective and could avert > 30% of new cases in Spain. Improving HIV diagnosis can amplify this impact.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)