HIV testing and counselling couples together for affordable HIV prevention in Africa
Background: The impact and cost-effectiveness of couples’ voluntary HIV counselling and testing (CVCT) has not been quantified in real-world settings. We quantify cost-per-HIV-infection averted by CVCT in Zambia from the donor’s perspective. Methods: From 2010 to 2016, CVCT was established in 73 Zambian government clinics. The cost-per-HIV-infection averted (CHIA) of CVCT was calculated using observed expenditures and effectiveness over longitudinal follow-up. These observed measures parameterized hypothetical 5-year nationwide implementations of: ‘CVCT’; ‘treatment-as-prevention (TasP) for discordant couples’ identified by CVCT; and ‘population TasP’ for all HIV+ cohabiting persons identified by individual testing. Results: In all, 207 428 couples were tested (US $52/couple). Among discordant couples in which HIV+ partners self-reported antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV incidence was 8.5/100 person-years before and 1.8/100 person-years after CVCT (79% reduction). Corresponding reductions for non-ART-using discordant and concordant negative couples were 63% and 47%, respectively. CVCT averted an estimated 58% of new infections at US $659 CHIA. In nationwide implementation models, CVCT would prevent 17 times the number of infections vs ‘TasP for discordant couples’ at 86% of the cost, and nine times the infections vs ‘population TasP’ at 28% of the cost. Conclusions: CVCT is a cost-effective, feasible prevention strategy in Zambia. We demonstrate the novel, added effectiveness of providing CVCT to ART users, for whom ART use alone only partially mitigated transmission risk. Our results indicate a major policy shift (supporting development of CVCT indicators, budgets and targets) and have clinical implications (suggesting promotion of CVCT in ART clinics as a high-impact prevention strategy).
Wall, Kristin M., Mubiana Inambao, William Kilembe, Etienne Karita, Bellington Vwalika, Joseph Mulenga, Rachel Parker, Tyronza Sharkey, Divya Sonti, Amanda Tichacek, Eric Hunter, Robert Yohnka, Joseph F. Abdallah, Ibou Thior, Julie Pulerwitz, and Susan Allen. 2019. "HIV testing and counselling couples together for affordable HIV prevention in Africa," International Journal of Epidemiology 48(1): 217–227.