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On-site HIV testing yields benefits to both patients and treatment providers

October 10, 2012
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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A National Institute of Health (NIH) funded study measured the cost-effectiveness of three different HIV testing options.  The three options -- on-site rapid testing with risk-reduction counseling, on-site rapid testing with information only, and off-site testing referral – were evaluated in a randomized trail conducted in 12 community-based substance abuse treatment programs in 2009.  Results of the study show that “referral for off-site testing is less efficient compared to offering on-site testing with information only.”   

The study also shows that on-site rapid HIV testing has the potential to increase life expectancy for substance abuse treatment patients newly diagnosed with HIV in a cost effective way, according to a release from NIDA. To expand on that point, this study estimated by using modeling, that life expectancy would be increased from 17.1 years without an on-site test, to 20.8 years with on-site testing with information on the testing procedure. The cost-effectiveness of providing onsite rapid HIV testing was calculated using a model that took into account patient information such as CD4 cell counts, viral burden, anti-retroviral therapy regimen, presence of an acute AIDS-defining illness, etc.  Additionally, the cost effectiveness also took into consideration the costs for medical treatment, and quality-adjusted life year (QALY) – a measure of both the length and quality of life that accounts for the burden of illness.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institute of Mental Health.

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