Structural Interventions to Prevent HIV/sexually Transmitted Disease

Are They Cost-Effective for Women in the Southern United States?

Published in: Sexually Transmitted Diseases, v. 33, no. 7, suppl., July 2006, p. S46-S49

Posted on on December 31, 2005

by Deborah A. Cohen, Shin-Yi Wu, Thomas Farley

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BACKGROUND: Structural interventions are theoretically promising for populations with a low prevalence of HIV, because they can reach large numbers of people to influence their social norms and collective risky behaviors for a relatively low cost per person. Because HIV transmission is continuing to increase among women in the southern United States, interventions to stem this epidemic are particularly warranted. This study explores whether structural interventions may be a cost-effective way to prevent HIV in this population. METHODS: The authors used the cost-effectiveness estimator, Maximizing the Benefit to determine the relative cost-effectiveness of 6 structural HIV prevention interventions. Maximizing the Benefit is a spreadsheet tool using mathematical models to estimate the cost per HIV infection prevented taking into account the epidemiologic contexts, behavioral change as a result of an intervention, and the costs of intervention. The authors applied estimates of HIV prevalence related to blacks in the southern United States. RESULTS: All the structural interventions were cost-effective compared with average lifetime treatment costs of HIV, but mass media, condom availability, and alcohol taxes theoretically prevented the largest numbers of HIV infections. CONCLUSIONS: Although the assumptions used in cost-effectiveness estimates have many limitations, they do allow for a relative comparison of different interventions and help to inform policy decisions related to the allocation of HIV prevention resources. Structural interventions hold the greatest promise in reducing HIV transmission among low-prevalence populations.

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