The following post is by HIVMA Executive Director Andrea Weddle. She is on location in Vienna, reporting from the 18th International AIDS Conference.
South African researcher Meyer-Rath presented compelling data on the cost effectiveness of treating infants early in South Africa at an IAS 2010 late breaker session on Thursday. The findings were based on chart reviews of the study arms from the Children with HIV Early Antiretroviral Therapy (CHER) trial.
Meyer-Rath and her colleagues analyzed the full cost of care during the first year of life for early initiation and two groups deferred for different intervals. The per patient (pp) annual cost for treating early, with initiation at a median of 10 weeks, was $1,349 pp – with cost breakdowns of 74 percent outpatient and 26 percent inpatient. A second arm deferred antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment initiation to a median of 20 weeks, with per patient costs of $2,432 with 51% of costs representing inpatient and 49% outpatient expenses.
The final arm, that was the standard at the time, started ART at a median of 27 weeks with per patient costs that were more than twice as high as the early treatment arm at $2,908 per patient per year with 84 percent of the cost coming from inpatient care. South Africa updated its guidelines to recommend earlier initiation of HIV treatment for infants in 2010 based on the data.
The presentation was based on IAC Abstract THLBB103 – The cost of early vs. deferred paediatric antiretroviral treatment in South Africa – a comparative economic analysis of the first year of the CHER trial.