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Cost-effectiveness of easy-access, risk-informed oral pre-exposure prophylaxis in HIV epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa: a modelling study.

Phillips AN, Bershteyn A, Revill P, Bansi-Matharu L, Kripke K, Boily MC, Martin-Hughes R, Johnson LF, Mukandavire Z, Jamieson L, Meyer-Rath G, Hallett TB, Ten Brink D, Kelly SL, Nichols BE, Bendavid E, Mudimu E, Taramusi I, Smith J, Dalal S, Baggaley R, Crowley S, Terris-Prestholt F, Godfrey-Faussett P, Mukui I, Jahn A, Case KK, Havlir D, Petersen M, Kamya M, Koss CA, Balzer LB, Apollo T, Chidarikire T, Mellors JW, Parikh UM, Godfrey C, Cambiano V, HIV Modelling Consortium

  • Journal The lancet. HIV

  • Published 03 May 2022

  • Volume 9

  • ISSUE 5

  • Pagination e353-e362

  • DOI 10.1016/S2352-3018(22)00029-7


Approaches that allow easy access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), such as over-the-counter provision at pharmacies, could facilitate risk-informed PrEP use and lead to lower HIV incidence, but their cost-effectiveness is unknown. We aimed to evaluate conditions under which risk-informed PrEP use is cost-effective.

We applied a mathematical model of HIV transmission to simulate 3000 setting-scenarios reflecting a range of epidemiological characteristics of communities in sub-Saharan Africa. The prevalence of HIV viral load greater than 1000 copies per mL among all adults (HIV positive and negative) varied from 1·1% to 7·4% (90% range). We hypothesised that if PrEP was made easily available without restriction and with education regarding its use, women and men would use PrEP, with sufficient daily adherence, during so-called seasons of risk (ie, periods in which individuals are at risk of acquiring infection). We refer to this as risk-informed PrEP. For each setting-scenario, we considered the situation in mid-2021 and performed a pairwise comparison of the outcomes of two policies: immediate PrEP scale-up and then continuation for 50 years, and no PrEP. We estimated the relationship between epidemic and programme characteristics and cost-effectiveness of PrEP availability to all during seasons of risk. For our base-case analysis, we assumed a 3-monthly PrEP cost of US$29 (drug $11, HIV test $4, and $14 for additional costs necessary to facilitate education and access), a cost-effectiveness threshold of $500 per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) averted, an annual discount rate of 3%, and a time horizon of 50 years. In sensitivity analyses, we considered a cost-effectiveness threshold of $100 per DALY averted, a discount rate of 7% per annum, the use of PrEP outside of seasons of risk, and reduced uptake of risk-informed PrEP.

In the context of PrEP scale-up such that 66% (90% range across setting-scenarios 46-81) of HIV-negative people with at least one non-primary condomless sex partner take PrEP in any given period, resulting in 2·6% (0·9-6·0) of all HIV negative adults taking PrEP at any given time, risk-informed PrEP was predicted to reduce HIV incidence by 49% (23-78) over 50 years compared with no PrEP. PrEP was cost-effective in 71% of all setting-scenarios, and cost-effective in 76% of setting-scenarios with prevalence of HIV viral load greater than 1000 copies per mL among all adults higher than 2%. In sensitivity analyses with a $100 per DALY averted cost-effectiveness threshold, a 7% per year discount rate, or with PrEP use that was less well risk-informed than in our base case, PrEP was less likely to be cost-effective, but generally remained cost-effective if the prevalence of HIV viral load greater than 1000 copies per mL among all adults was higher than 3%. In sensitivity analyses based on additional setting-scenarios in which risk-informed PrEP was less extensively used, the HIV incidence reduction was smaller, but the cost-effectiveness of risk-informed PrEP was undiminished.

Under the assumption that making PrEP easily accessible for all adults in sub-Saharan Africa in the context of community education leads to risk-informed use, PrEP is likely to be cost-effective in settings with prevalence of HIV viral load greater than 1000 copies per mL among all adults higher than 2%, suggesting the need for implementation of such approaches, with ongoing evaluation.

US Agency for International Development, US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.