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Comparative effectiveness of HIV testing and treatment in highly endemic regions.

Bendavid E, Brandeau ML, Wood R, Owens DK. Comparative effectiveness of HIV testing and treatment in highly endemic regions. Archives of internal medicine. 2010 Aug 9; 170(15):1347-54.

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BACKGROUND: Universal testing and treatment holds promise for reducing the burden of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in sub-Saharan Africa, but linkage from testing to treatment sites and retention in care are inadequate. METHODS: We developed a simulation of the HIV epidemic and HIV disease progression in South Africa to compare the outcomes of the present HIV treatment campaign (status quo) with 4 HIV testing and treating strategies that increase access to antiretroviral therapy: (1) universal testing and treatment without changes in linkage to care and loss to follow-up; (2) universal testing and treatment with improved linkage to care; (3) universal testing and treatment with reduced loss to follow-up; and (4) comprehensive HIV care with universal testing and treatment, improved linkage to care, and reduced loss to follow-up. The main outcome measures were survival benefits, new HIV infections, and HIV prevalence. RESULTS: Compared with the status quo strategy, universal testing and treatment (1) was associated with a mean (95% uncertainty bounds) life expectancy gain of 12.0 months (11.3-12.2 months), and 35.3% (32.7%-37.5%) fewer HIV infections over a 10-year time horizon. Improved linkage to care (2), prevention of loss to follow-up (3), and comprehensive HIV care (4) provided substantial additional benefits: life expectancy gains compared with the status quo strategy were 16.1, 18.6, and 22.2 months, and new infections were 55.5%, 51.4%, and 73.2% lower, respectively. In sensitivity analysis, comprehensive HIV care reduced new infections by 69.7% to 76.7% under a broad set of assumptions. CONCLUSIONS: Universal testing and treatment with current levels of linkage to care and loss to follow-up could substantially reduce the HIV death toll and new HIV infections. However, increasing linkage to care and preventing loss to follow-up provides nearly twice the benefits of universal testing and treatment alone.

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