Economic evaluation of alternative testing regimes and settings to detect undiagnosed HIV in Australia

Owain D. Williams, Judith A. Dean, Anna Crothers, Charles F. Gilks, Jeff Gow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The study aimed to estimate the comparative costs per positive diagnosis of previously undetected HIV in three testing regimes: conventional; parallel and point of care (POC) testing. The regimes are analysed in six testing settings in Australia where infection is concentrated but with low prevalence. Methods: A cost model was developed to highlight the trade-offs between test and economic efficiency from a provider perspective. First, an estimate of the number of tests needed to find a true (previously undiagnosed) positive diagnosis was made. Second, estimates of the average cost per positive diagnosis in whole of population (WoP) and men who have sex with men (MSM) was made, then third, aggregated to the total cost for diagnosis of all undetected infections. Results: Parallel testing is as effective as conventional testing, but more economically efficient. POC testing provide two significant advantages over conventional testing: they screen out negatives effectively at comparatively lower cost and, with confirmatory testing of reactive results, there is no loss in efficiency. The average and total costs per detection in WoP are prohibitive, except for Home Self Testing. The diagnosis in MSM is cost effective in all settings, but especially using Home Self Testing when the individual assumes the cost of testing. Conclusions: This study illustrates the trade-offs between economic and test efficiency and their interactions with population(s) prevalence. The efficient testing regimes and settings are presently under or not funded in Australia. Home Self Testing has the potential to dramatically increase testing rates at very little cost.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Conventional testing
  • Costs
  • HIV testing
  • Parallel testing
  • Point of care testing
  • Self-testing

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