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Boosting HIV screening can increase survival and is cost effective

Expanded HIV screening can increase patient life span, prevent the spread of the disease, and is cost effective, researchers at Yale, Harvard and the Massachusetts General Hospital report in the February 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

The study's findings are part of a two-paper series in NEJM on the value of expanded HIV screening in the United States. The Yale/Harvard study used different data and methods than another study by VA, Duke and Stanford researchers, yet both teams reached roughly the same conclusions.

"The publication of these papers represents a golden opportunity to jump-start the expansion of HIV testing services in the U.S.," said Yale lead author A. David Paltiel, associate professor of health and policy administration in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine. "Our findings, coupled with those of our colleagues, firmly establish the great value of expanded screening."

Paltiel and his team developed a mathematical model of HIV screening and treatment to predict the costs and benefits of HIV counseling, testing and referral. They found that routine, voluntary HIV screening every three to five years is cost-effective by U.S. standards, in all but the lowest-risk populations. Frequent HIV screening in moderate-to-high-risk populations could produce life expectancy gains at costs that compare favorably to many commonly employed screening interventions in other chronic conditions, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes and hypertension. Paltiel said that even in settings with HIV infection levels similar to the U.S. general population, one-time screening could deliver excellent return on investment.

"HIV is a severe disease that, left untreated, produces substantial morbidity and mortality," said Paltiel. "It has a long asymptomatic phase, which can be diagnosed using very effective, inexpensive tests. Most importantly, early detection speeds link
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Source:Yale University


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