Articles tagged as "Resources/ Impact/ Development"

Pulling out: how to make it work for Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan can achieve ambitious HIV targets despite expected donor withdrawal by combining improved ART procurement mechanisms with allocative and implementation efficiencies.

Shattock AJ, Benedikt C, Bokazhanova A, Duric P, Petrenko I, Ganina L, Kelly SL, Stuart RM, Kerr CC, Vinichenko T, Zhang S, Hamelmann C, Manova M, Masaki E, Wilson DP, Gray RT. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 16;12(2):e0169530. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169530. eCollection 2017.

Background: Despite a non-decreasing HIV epidemic, international donors are soon expected to withdraw funding from Kazakhstan. Here we analyze how allocative, implementation, and technical efficiencies could strengthen the national HIV response under assumptions of future budget levels.

Methodology: We used the Optima model to project future scenarios of the HIV epidemic in Kazakhstan that varied in future antiretroviral treatment unit costs and management expenditure-two areas identified for potential cost-reductions. We determined optimal allocations across HIV programs to satisfy either national targets or ambitious targets. For each scenario, we considered two cases of future HIV financing: the 2014 national budget maintained into the future and the 2014 budget without current international investment.

Findings: Kazakhstan can achieve its national HIV targets with the current budget by (1) optimally re-allocating resources across programs and (2) either securing a 35% [30%-39%] reduction in antiretroviral treatment drug costs or reducing management costs by 44% [36%-58%] of 2014 levels. Alternatively, a combination of antiretroviral treatment and management cost-reductions could be sufficient. Furthermore, Kazakhstan can achieve ambitious targets of halving new infections and AIDS-related deaths by 2020 compared to 2014 levels by attaining a 67% reduction in antiretroviral treatment costs, a 19% [14%-27%] reduction in management costs, and allocating resources optimally.

Significance: With Kazakhstan facing impending donor withdrawal, it is important for the HIV response to achieve more with available resources. This analysis can help to guide HIV response planners in directing available funding to achieve the greatest yield from investments. The key changes recommended were considered realistic by Kazakhstan country representatives.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: The HIV epidemic in Kazakhstan is concentrated around key populations (such as people who inject drugs, female sex workers and their partners, gay men and other men who have sex with men). Unlike in other settings, incidence has not decreased in recent years. However, as Kazakhstan continues to boom economically, international donors are expected to withdraw from the country in the near future and the responsibility for funding HIV-associated programmes will shift towards the state. This article attempts to explore how different kinds of efficiencies in the distribution of resources could strengthen the national HIV response in the coming years.  

The authors modelled future scenarios of the epidemic in Kazakhstan. They looked at whether and how the country could achieve certain targets by 2020 given its budgetary restrictions. They found that the country could achieve its national targets by either securing a 35% reduction in antiretroviral therapy or reducing management costs by 44%.

The topic this paper covers raises a number of important issues. As national governments move towards covering the totality of spending on HIV prevention and treatment, they will be confronted with the need to fund (using national tax revenues) prevention mechanisms. Their mechanisms are aimed at key populations who are often marginalized. Although funding these types of programmes through donor funding may have not caused political challenges, doing so using the state’s funding may. Government budget allocation is often a highly contentious exercise. Potential shifts in national priority setting following donor withdrawal should not be ignored.

Secondly, focussing on key populations is more costly than focussing on the general population. As prevention programmes cover people in key populations who are easier to reach, efforts should shift towards making prevention available to the harder-to-reach sections of key populations. However, this will further increase unit costs per person reached, and probably per infection averted. Given the decrease in external funding for Kazakhstan, it is important for the national response to budget for these additional costs.  This is a necessity to ensure equity in the access to the HIV response.

Asia
Kazakhstan
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Providing HIV treatment in Tanzania costs relatively little, but means a large increase in current health spending

The costs of providing antiretroviral therapy services to HIV-infected individuals presenting with advanced HIV disease at public health centres in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Findings from a randomised trial evaluating different health care strategies.

Kimaro GD, Mfinanga S, Simms V, Kivuyo S, Bottomley C, Hawkins N, Harrison TS, Jaffar S, Guinness L, on behalf of the REMSTART trial team. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 24;12(2):e0171917. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171917. eCollection 2017.

Background: Understanding the costs associated with health care delivery strategies is essential for planning. There are few data on health service resources used by patients and their associated costs within antiretroviral (ART) programmes in Africa.

Material and methods: The study was nested within a large trial, which evaluated screening for cryptococcal meningitis and tuberculosis and a short initial period of home-based adherence support for patients initiating ART with advanced HIV disease in Tanzania and Zambia. The economic evaluation was done in Tanzania alone. We estimated costs of providing routine ART services from the health service provider's perspective using a micro-costing approach. Incremental costs for the different novel components of service delivery were also estimated. All costs were converted into US dollars (US$) and based on 2012 prices.

Results: Of 870 individuals enrolled in Tanzania, 434 were enrolled in the intervention arm and 436 in the standard care/control arm. Overall, the median (IQR) age and CD4 cell count at enrolment were 38 [31, 44] years and 52 [20, 89] cells/mm3, respectively. The mean per patient costs over the first three months and over a one year period of follow up following ART initiation in the standard care arm were US$ 107 (95%CI 101-112) and US$ 265 (95%CI 254-275) respectively. ART drugs, clinic visits and hospital admission constituted 50%, 19%, and 19% of the total cost per patient year, while diagnostic tests and non-ART drugs (co-trimoxazole) accounted for 10% and 2% of total per patient year costs. The incremental costs of the intervention to the health service over the first three months was US$ 59 (p<0.001; 95%CI 52-67) and over a one year period was US$ 67(p<0.001; 95%CI 50-83). This is equivalent to an increase of 55% (95%CI 51%-59%) in the mean cost of care over the first three months, and 25% (95%CI 20%-30%) increase over one year of follow up.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: There are very few data on the cost of providing HIV treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors of this paper analysed cost data from a trial of screening services for opportunistic infections, to estimate the additional costs of HIV treatment to the health service. The most costly part of treatment was the antiretroviral medicines themselves, followed by clinic visits and hospital admissions. Diagnostic tests and treatments for other conditions were relatively inexpensive. The overall costs of treatment to the health system were fairly low in absolute terms. At around US$67 per year this is on the cheaper side of many cost studies. However, HIV treatment increases overall health system costs by a quarter. This could have significant implications for health system funding requirements in Tanzania as treatment is offered to the many people who need it in the UNAIDS 90-90-90 treatment target.

Africa
United Republic of Tanzania
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Assisted partner services a safe, effective strategy to identify undiagnosed HIV cases in sub-Saharan Africa

Assisted partner services for HIV in Kenya: a cluster randomised controlled trial.

Cherutich P, Golden MR, Wamuti B, Richardson BA, Asbjornsdottir KH, Otieno FA, Ng'ang'a A, Mutiti PM, Macharia P, Sambai B, Dunbar M, Bukusi D, Farquhar C. Lancet HIV. 2016 Nov 29. pii: S2352-3018(16)30214-4. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(16)30214-4. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: Assisted partner services for index patients with HIV infections involves elicitation of information about sex partners and contacting them to ensure that they test for HIV and link to care. Assisted partner services are not widely available in Africa. We aimed to establish whether or not assisted partner services increase HIV testing, diagnoses, and linkage to care among sex partners of people with HIV infections in Kenya.

Methods: In this cluster randomised controlled trial, we recruited non-pregnant adults aged at least 18 years with newly or recently diagnosed HIV without a recent history of intimate partner violence who had not yet or had only recently linked to HIV care from 18 HIV testing services clinics in Kenya. Consenting sites in Kenya were randomly assigned (1:1) by the study statistician (restricted randomisation; balanced distribution in terms of county and proximity to a city) to immediate versus delayed assisted partner services. Primary outcomes were the number of partners tested for HIV, the number who tested HIV positive, and the number enrolled in HIV care, in those who were interviewed at 6 week follow-up. Participants within each cluster were masked to treatment allocation because participants within each cluster received the same intervention. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01616420.

Findings: Between Aug 12, 2013, and Aug 31, 2015, we randomly allocated 18 clusters to immediate and delayed HIV assisted partner services (nine in each group), enrolling 1305 participants: 625 (48%) in the immediate group and 680 (52%) in the delayed group. 6 weeks after enrolment of index patients, 392 (67%) of 586 partners had tested for HIV in the immediate group and 85 (13%) of 680 had tested in the delayed group (incidence rate ratio 4.8, 95% CI 3.7-6.4). 136 (23%) partners had new HIV diagnoses in the immediate group compared with 28 (4%) in the delayed group (5.0, 3.2-7.9) and 88 (15%) versus 19 (3%) were newly enrolled in care (4.4, 2.6-7.4). Assisted partner services did not increase intimate partner violence (one intimate partner violence event related to partner notification or study procedures occurred in each group).

Interpretation: Assisted partner services are safe and increase HIV testing and case-finding; implementation at the population level could enhance linkage to care and antiretroviral therapy initiation and substantially decrease HIV transmission.

Abstract access  

Editor’s notes: One of the greatest challenges to achieving goals such as the UNAIDS 90:90:90 treatment target is the development of more effective strategies to enable people undiagnosed living with HIV to be tested and engaged with care. One strategy for achieving this in high-income settings, albeit with a very limited evidence base, is assisted partner services. In this approach, health-care workers identify and attempt to contact the sexual partners of people recently diagnosed with HIV. These partners are then encouraged to be tested and engaged with care. This pragmatic cluster randomised study, conducted in Kenya, aimed to assess whether assisted partner services were feasible in a sub-Saharan African setting and if so, to measure the effectiveness in terms of additional individuals testing for HIV, receiving new HIV diagnoses and engaging with care as a result of the programme.

The results were striking, in that six weeks after enrolment almost five times as many partners of index cases in the immediate group (partners contacted  at enrolment) had been tested for HIV compared to the delayed group (partners contacted  six weeks after enrolment). There were five times as many new HIV diagnoses in the immediate group compared to the delayed group. There were also four times as many partners newly engaged with care in the immediate arm compared to the delayed arm. There was also no evidence that the tracing of sexual partners led to an increase in intimate partner violence.

These results illustrate that assisted partner services can make an important contribution to identifying people living with HIV who are undiagnosed, enabling people to get tested and engaged with care in a low-income setting. A major challenge, identified by the study authors, is whether the human resources would be available in already highly stretched settings to implement this strategy. They suggest that task shifting from professional healthcare providers to a less highly educated cadre of workers would be feasible and point to other areas of care such as safe male circumcision and ART delivery, where this has been successfully achieved. 

Africa
Kenya
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The Affordable Care Act at work – increasing health care access for people living with HIV in California

Implementation and operational research: affordable care act implementation in a California health care system leads to growth in HIV-positive patient enrollment and changes in patient characteristics.

Satre DD, Altschuler A, Parthasarathy S, Silverberg MJ, Volberding P, Campbell CI. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016 Dec 15;73(5):e76-e82.

Objectives: This study examined implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in relation to HIV-positive patient enrollment in an integrated health care system; as well as changes in new enrollee characteristics, benefit structure, and health care utilization after key ACA provisions went into effect in 2014.

Methods: This mixed-methods study was set in Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC). Qualitative interviews with 29 KPNC leaders explored planning for ACA implementation. Quantitative analyses compared newly enrolled HIV-positive patients in KPNC between January and December 2012 ("pre-ACA," N = 661) with newly enrolled HIV-positive patients between January and December 2014 ("post-ACA," N = 880) on demographics; medical, psychiatric, and substance use disorder diagnoses; HIV clinical indicators; and type of health care utilization.

Results: Interviews found that ACA preparation focused on enrollment growth, staffing, competition among health plans, concern about cost sharing, and HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) services. Quantitative analyses found that post-ACA HIV-positive patient enrollment grew. New enrollees in 2014 were more likely than 2012 enrollees to be enrolled in high-deductible plans (P < 0.01) or through Medicaid (P < 0.01), and marginally more likely to have better HIV viral control (P < 0.10). They also were more likely to be diagnosed with asthma (P < 0.01) or substance use disorders (P < 0.05) and to have used primary care health services in the 6 months postenrollment (P < 0.05) than the pre-ACA cohort.

Conclusions: As anticipated by KPNC interviewees, ACA implementation was followed by HIV-positive patient enrollment growth and changing benefit structures and patient characteristics. Although HIV viral control improved, comorbid diagnosis findings reinforced the importance of coordinated health care.

Abstract access  

Editor’s notes: This paper provides a very useful assessment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (commonly called ‘Obama-Care’) coverage for people living with HIV in part of California. As the authors note, a goal of the Affordable Care Act was to increase health-care coverage for people with chronic conditions. They also note that before the implementation of the ACA, many people living with HIV lacked health-care insurance covering HIV-medications and HIV medical care. It has the potential to make a difference to people with chronic conditions. The ACA has removed exclusions for insurance access, like pre-existing conditions. It has also removed caps on costs and provides financial support for health care premiums. 

As anticipated by the authors, the passing of the ACA had provided greater access to care for people living with HIV. However, challenges exist in supporting people living with HIV who have co-morbidities. The authors note that people living with HIV in need of psychiatric care, or because of substance use, were not always reached. This is partly because people do not come forward for care.  The authors suggest that integrated care where HIV-care is provided with support for other chronic conditions can help reach more people to come forward.

At a time of change in the United States, this paper is timely in highlighting the value of the Affordable Care Act for people living with HIV.  

Northern America
United States of America
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Is universal antenatal HIV testing still cost-effective?

Should HIV testing for all pregnant women continue? Cost-effectiveness of universal antenatal testing compared to focused approaches across high to very low HIV prevalence settings.

Ishikawa N, Dalal S, Johnson C, Hogan DR, Shimbo T, Shaffer N, Pendse RN, Lo YR, Ghidinelli MN, Baggaley R. J Int AIDS Soc. 2016 Dec 14;19(1):21212. doi: 10.7448/IAS.19.1.21212. eCollection 2016.

Introduction: HIV testing is the entry point for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Decreasing external funding for the HIV response in some low- and middle-income countries has triggered the question of whether a focused approach to HIV testing targeting pregnant women in high-burden areas should be considered. This study aimed at determining and comparing the cost-effectiveness of universal and focused HIV testing approaches for pregnant women across high to very low HIV prevalence settings.

Methods: We conducted a modelling analysis on health and cost outcomes of HIV testing for pregnant women using four country-based case scenarios (Namibia, Kenya, Haiti and Viet Nam) to illustrate high, intermediate, low and very low HIV prevalence settings. We used subnational prevalence data to divide each country into high-, medium- and low-burden areas, and modelled different antenatal and testing coverage in each.

Results: When HIV testing services were only focused in high-burden areas within a country, mother-to-child transmission rates remained high ranging from 18 to 23%, resulting in a 25 to 69% increase in new paediatric HIV infections and increased future treatment costs for children. Universal HIV testing was found to be dominant (i.e. more QALYs gained with less cost) compared to focused approaches in the Namibia, Kenya and Haiti scenarios. The universal approach was also very cost-effective compared to focused approaches, with $ 125 per quality-adjusted life years gained in the Viet Nam-based scenario of very low HIV prevalence. Sensitivity analysis further supported the findings.

Conclusions: Universal approach to antenatal HIV testing achieves the best health outcomes and is cost-saving or cost-effective in the long term across the range of HIV prevalence settings. It is further a prerequisite for quality maternal and child healthcare and for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: This paper describes research undertaken to support the consolidated guidelines on HIV testing services, published by World Health Organization in 2015. This analysis was conducted in response to growing questions as to whether focused HIV testing in high prevalence areas can improve value for money in investment for HIV testing.

A model was parameterized to represent four scenarios with high, intermediate, low, and very low HIV prevalence settings (Namibia, Kenya, Haiti, and Viet Nam). Three approaches to HIV testing in antenatal care are considered in comparison with current coverage in each setting. These three approaches were: a very focused approach, a targeted approach, and a universal testing approach for all pregnant women.  The authors estimate the costs and effects of each scenario, including the future costs of treating paediatric HIV for 20 years. Universal testing was found to be cost-saving in Namibia, Kenya and Haiti and was found to be cost-effective in Viet Nam ($125 per QALY gained).  The targeted testing approach was also more cost-effective than current coverage in all settings.

The clear policy implication from this analysis is that HIV testing for pregnant women saves both money and lives in the long term. Universal HIV testing in antenatal care can be regarded as a good investment in almost any HIV prevalence setting. However, it is also important to note that targeted testing was more cost-effective than current coverage in all settings. Countries that are currently struggling to provide testing in antenatal care may need to consider factors other than cost-effectiveness in their planning and strategy for scaling up. This is important in order to address HIV at a national scale.  

Africa, Asia, Latin America
Haiti, Kenya, Namibia, Viet Nam
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Using HIV testing infrastructure for other diseases can be very low cost

Implementation and operational research: cost and efficiency of a hybrid mobile multidisease testing approach with high HIV testing coverage in east Africa.

Chang W, Chamie G, Mwai D, Clark TD, Thirumurthy H, Charlebois ED, Petersen M, Kabami J, Ssemmondo E, Kadede K, Kwarisiima D, Sang N, Bukusi EA, Cohen CR, Kamya M, Havlir DV, Kahn JG. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016 Nov 1;73(3):e39-e45.

Background: In 2013-2014, we achieved 89% adult HIV testing coverage using a hybrid testing approach in 32 communities in Uganda and Kenya (SEARCH: NCT01864603). To inform scalability, we sought to determine: (1) overall cost and efficiency of this approach; and (2) costs associated with point-of-care (POC) CD4 testing, multidisease services, and community mobilization.

Methods: We applied microcosting methods to estimate costs of population-wide HIV testing in 12 SEARCH trial communities. Main intervention components of the hybrid approach are census, multidisease community health campaigns (CHC), and home-based testing for CHC nonattendees. POC CD4 tests were provided for all HIV-infected participants. Data were extracted from expenditure records, activity registers, staff interviews, and time and motion logs.

Results: The mean cost per adult tested for HIV was $20.5 (range: $17.1-$32.1) (2014 US$), including a POC CD4 test at $16 per HIV+ person identified. Cost per adult tested for HIV was $13.8 at CHC vs. $31.7 by home-based testing. The cost per HIV+ adult identified was $231 ($87-$1245), with variability due mainly to HIV prevalence among persons tested (ie, HIV positivity rate). The marginal costs of multidisease testing at CHCs were $1.16/person for hypertension and diabetes, and $0.90 for malaria. Community mobilization constituted 15.3% of total costs.

Conclusions: The hybrid testing approach achieved very high HIV testing coverage, with POC CD4, at costs similar to previously reported mobile, home-based, or venue-based HIV testing approaches in sub-Saharan Africa. By leveraging HIV infrastructure, multidisease services were offered at low marginal costs.

Abstract access  

Editor’s notes: The scale up of HIV testing services over recent years has meant that infrastructure for HIV testing is, in many places, much stronger than that of other diseases. This study assessed the costs and cost-effectiveness of both HIV testing services and additional multi disease testing in 32 communities of Uganda and Kenya. As has been found in other studies, testing people through community health campaigns cost less than home-based testing. However, the cost per HIV positive person identified varied widely according to the underlying HIV prevalence. The costs of including additional disease testing services – for hypertension, diabetes and malaria – were low. A more holistic approach to health testing could lead to substantial health benefits for relatively low cost.

Africa
Kenya, Uganda
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Costs for HIV services vary widely across different countries

Costs along the service cascades for HIV testing and counselling and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

Bautista-Arredondo S, Sosa-Rubi SG, Opuni M, Contreras-Loya D, Kwan A, Chaumont C, Chompolola A, Condo J, Galarraga O, Martinson N, Masiye F, Nsanzimana S, Ochoa-Moreno I, Wamai R, Wang'ombe.  J. AIDS. 2016 Oct 23;30(16):2495-2504. Published online 2016 Sep 28.  doi:  10.1097/QAD.0000000000001208

Objective: We estimate facility-level average annual costs per client along the HIV testing and counselling (HTC) and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) service cascades.

Design: Data collected covered the period 2011-2012 in 230 HTC and 212 PMTCT facilities in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and Zambia.

Methods: Input quantities and unit prices were collected, as were output data. Annual economic costs were estimated from the service providers' perspective using micro-costing. Average annual costs per client in 2013 United States dollars (US$) were estimated along the service cascades.

Results: For HTC, average cost per client tested ranged from US$5 (SD US$7) in Rwanda to US$31 (SD US$24) in South Africa, whereas average cost per client diagnosed as HIV-positive ranged from US$122 (SD US$119) in Zambia to US$1367 (SD US$2093) in Rwanda. For PMTCT, average cost per client tested ranged from US$18 (SD US$20) in Rwanda to US$89 (SD US$56) in South Africa; average cost per client diagnosed as HIV-positive ranged from US$567 (SD US$417) in Zambia to US$2021 (SD US$3210) in Rwanda; average cost per client on antiretroviral prophylaxis ranged from US$704 (SD US$610) in South Africa to US$2314 (SD US$3204) in Rwanda; and average cost per infant on nevirapine ranged from US$888 (SD US$884) in South Africa to US$2359 (SD US$3257) in Rwanda.

Conclusion: We found important differences in unit costs along the HTC and PMTCT service cascades within and between countries suggesting that more efficient delivery of these services is possible.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: With resources for HIV prevention and treatment services becoming limited, more focus is being placed on maximising the benefit gain from current service provision. This paper examines the cost of different HIV services in four sub-Saharan African countries to see how costs vary for the provision of different services. The authors find a wide variation in costs across different countries. For example, HIV testing appears to have a relatively high cost in South Africa, however South Africa’s cost per person on ARV treatment is lower than other countries. This variation suggests that a more efficient delivery of HIV services could give greater benefit for the same amount of funding required. 

Africa
Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia
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Ending HIV deaths in South Africa: progress made but still a long way to go

Mortality trends and differentials in South Africa from 1997 to 2012: second National Burden of Disease Study.

Pillay-van Wyk V, Msemburi W, Laubscher R, Dorrington RE, Groenewald P, Glass T, Nojilana B, Joubert JD, Matzopoulos R, Prinsloo M, Nannan N, Gwebushe N, Vos T, Somdyala N, Sithole N, Neethling I, Nicol E, Rossouw A, Bradshaw D. Lancet Glob Health. 2016 Sep;4(9):e642-53. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(16)30113-9.

Background: The poor health of South Africans is known to be associated with a quadruple disease burden. In the second National Burden of Disease (NBD) study, we aimed to analyse cause of death data for 1997-2012 and develop national, population group, and provincial estimates of the levels and causes of mortality.

Method: We used underlying cause of death data from death notifications for 1997-2012 obtained from Statistics South Africa. These data were adjusted for completeness using indirect demographic techniques for adults and comparison with survey and census estimates for child mortality. A regression approach was used to estimate misclassified HIV/AIDS deaths and so-called garbage codes were proportionally redistributed by age, sex, and population group population group (black African, Indian or Asian descent, white [European descent], and coloured [of mixed ancestry according to the preceding categories]). Injury deaths were estimated from additional data sources. Age-standardised death rates were calculated with mid-year population estimates and the WHO age standard. Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Disease (IHME GBD) estimates for South Africa were obtained from the IHME GHDx website for comparison.

Findings: All-cause age-standardised death rates increased rapidly since 1997, peaked in 2006 and then declined, driven by changes in HIV/AIDS. Mortality from tuberculosis, non-communicable diseases, and injuries decreased slightly. In 2012, HIV/AIDS caused the most deaths (29.1%) followed by cerebrovascular disease (7.5%) and lower respiratory infections (4.9%). All-cause age-standardised death rates were 1.7 times higher in the province with the highest death rate compared to the province with the lowest death rate, 2.2 times higher in black Africans compared to whites, and 1.4 times higher in males compared with females. Comparison with the IHME GBD estimates for South Africa revealed substantial differences for estimated deaths from all causes, particularly HIV/AIDS and interpersonal violence.

Interpretation: This study related the reversal of HIV/AIDS, non-communicable disease, and injury mortality trends in South Africa during the study period. Mortality differentials show the importance of social determinants, raise concerns about the quality of health services, and provide relevant information to policy makers for addressing inequalities. Differences between GBD estimates for South Africa and this study emphasise the need for more careful calibration of global models with local data.

Abstract   Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: In South Africa in 2012, almost 500 people died every day from HIV or TB. One in every three deaths was associated with HIV or TB. Although these figures represent a substantial decline from the peak of the epidemic impact in 2006, they highlight the enormous challenge still facing this country.

South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa to have a robust civil registration system for deaths. However, there continue to be problems with misclassification of HIV-associated deaths. This analysis relied on somewhat complicated analytical methods to adjust mortality estimates. Only around half of those deaths ultimately defined as HIV associated had been originally coded as such in the registration system. The methods for adjustment differed from those used in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. This explains the quite marked discrepancy in number of deaths attributed to HIV - this study estimated 40% fewer HIV-associated deaths than the GBD study.

This highlights that there is still quite a lot of uncertainty around cause-specific mortality estimates. So, although these data are useful to guide national and provincial priority setting, more fine-grain analysis is required to properly inform public health policies. There is a particular need to unpick the contribution of TB. In this respect, the recent announcement by the South African Department of Science of Technology to establish a network of health and demographic surveillance sites as a key component of the national research infrastructure is very welcome. With established verbal autopsy methods and innovations such as routine linkage to health service records, this will provide a framework to allow a deeper understanding of mortality.

Africa
South Africa
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Using HIV infrastructure to test for other diseases can reach many people at a low cost

Cost and efficiency of a hybrid mobile multi-disease testing approach with high HIV testing coverage in East Africa.

Chang W, Chamie G, Mwai D, Clark TD, Thirumurthy H, Charlebois ED, Petersen M, Kabami J, Ssemmondo E, Kadede K, Kwarisiima D, Sang N, Bukusi EA, Cohen CR, Kamya M, Havlir DV, Kahn JG. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016 Jul 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: In 2013-14, we achieved 89% adult HIV testing coverage using a hybrid testing approach in 32 communities in Uganda and Kenya (SEARCH: NCT01864603). To inform scalability, we sought to determine: 1) overall cost and efficiency of this approach; and 2) costs associated with point-of-care (POC) CD4 testing, multi-disease services, and community mobilization.

Methods: We applied micro-costing methods to estimate costs of population-wide HIV testing in 12 SEARCH Trial communities. Main intervention components of the hybrid approach are census, multi-disease community health campaigns (CHC), and home-based testing (HBT) for CHC non-attendees. POC CD4 tests were provided for all HIV-infected participants. Data were extracted from expenditure records, activity registers, staff interviews, and time and motion logs.

Results: The mean cost per adult tested for HIV was $20.5 (range: $17.1 - $32.1) [2014 US$], including a POC CD4 test at $16 per HIV+ person identified. Cost per adult tested for HIV was $13.8 at CHC vs. $31.7 via HBT. The cost per HIV+ adult identified was $231 ($87 - $1245), with variability due mainly to HIV prevalence among persons tested (i.e., HIV positivity rate). The marginal costs of multi-disease testing at CHCs were $1.16/person for hypertension and diabetes, and $0.90 for malaria. Community mobilization constituted 15.3% of total costs.

Conclusions: The hybrid testing approach achieved very high HIV testing coverage, with POC CD4, at costs similar to previously reported mobile, home-based, or venue-based HIV testing approaches in sub-Saharan Africa. By leveraging HIV infrastructure, multi-disease services were offered at low marginal costs.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Ensuring high rates of HIV testing is critical to managing the HIV epidemic in many countries. With a positive diagnosis, recent WHO recommendations suggest that people living with HIV can immediately be put onto treatment which improves their own health, alongside reducing the chance that they will pass on infection to others. There are many different ways to carry out HIV testing, and this study looks at the differences in costs between community health campaigns (which also test for other diseases including hypertension and diabetes), and home-based testing. This paper estimates that it was less costly to carry out a HIV test through a multi-disease community programme than home-based testing. The authors suggest that because of the robust infrastructure that has been developed for HIV testing in Uganda and Kenya, the additional cost for testing for other diseases is very low. There has been some criticism that the response to the HIV epidemic has been at the expense of reducing ill-health from other conditions. Using HIV infrastructure to support testing for diseases like hypertension and diabetes is a good way to counter these criticisms, and improve the overall health of the population. 

Africa
Kenya, Uganda
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Challenges in assessing quality in HIV outpatient care

Structure and quality of outpatient care for people living with an HIV infection.

Engelhard EA, Smit C, Nieuwkerk PT, Reiss P, Kroon FP, Brinkman K, Geerlings SE. AIDS Care. 2016 Aug;28(8):1062-72. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2016.1153590. Epub 2016 Mar 13.

Policy-makers and clinicians are faced with a gap of evidence to guide policy on standards for HIV outpatient care. Ongoing debates include which settings of care improve health outcomes, and how many HIV-infected patients a health-care provider should treat to gain and maintain expertise. In this article, we evaluate the studies that link health-care facility and care provider characteristics (i.e., structural factors) to health outcomes in HIV-infected patients. We searched the electronic databases MEDLINE, PUBMED, and EMBASE from inception until 1 January 2015. We included a total of 28 observational studies that were conducted after the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy in 1996. Three aspects of the available research linking the structure to quality of HIV outpatient care were evaluated: (1) assessed structural characteristics (i.e., health-care facility and care provider characteristics); (2) measures of quality of HIV outpatient care; and (3) reported associations between structural characteristics and quality of care. Rather than scarcity of data, it is the diversity in methodology in the identified studies and the inconsistency of their results that led us to the conclusion that the scientific evidence is too weak to guide policy in HIV outpatient care. We provide recommendations on how to address this heterogeneity in future studies and offer specific suggestions for further reading that could be of interest for clinicians and researchers.

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Editor’s notes: The availability of antiretroviral therapy has resulted in remarkable decreases in HIV-associated mortality.  Complexity in the management of HIV infection has however grown along with these advances in treatment. Health-care providers are confronted with challenges associated with antiretroviral therapy including toxicities; drug-drug interactions and drug resistance; and comorbidities and aging among the population living with HIV. In order to achieve optimal health outcomes, care for people living with HIV should be provided at health-care facilities and by care providers with sufficient expertise. A variety of different delivery models have been attempted to achieve this. There are a growing number of studies assessing care delivery models and programmes in outpatient HIV care.  In this article the authors provide an overview of the scientific literature linking health-care facility and care provider characteristics to the quality of HIV outpatient care.

The authors conducted a systematic review of articles that reported an original observational research study with an adult population living with HIV, were conducted after 1996, and that did not focus exclusively on interventions.

The authors acknowledge the limitations of their research. These included a disproportionate number of studies based in the USA and sub-Saharan Africa (thus limited generalisability); diversity in the definition of structural variables; a wide scope of measures of quality of care used in studies; and limited inclusion of peoples’ healthcare experiences. The authors summarise two main implications of their research.  First, they note that their findings suggest that health-care provider experience improves outcomes among people living with HIV although they are unable to make recommendations regarding facility volume requirements for outpatient care. Second, they advocate for the need for research to extend to regions outside the USA and sub-Saharan Africa.  They also note the need for researchers to align their methods of measuring quality including by going beyond HIV-associated morbidity in the evaluation of health outcomes.  Peoples’ preferences and retention in care should also play an important role in the evaluation of the quality of care.

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