The potential for quality assurance systems to save costs and lives: the case of early infant diagnosis of HIV

F. Terris-Prestholt, D. Boeras, J. J. Ong, S. Torres-Rueda, N. Cassim, M. A.S. Mbengue, S. Mboup, M. Mwau, E. Munemo, W. Nyegenye, C. O. Odhiambo, P. Dabula, P. Sandstrom, M. Sarr, R. Simbi, W. Stevens, J. D. Tucker, P. Vickerman, A. Ciaranello, R. W. Peeling

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Objectives: Scaling up of point-of-care testing (POCT) for early infant diagnosis of HIV (EID) could reduce the large gap in infant testing. However, suboptimal POCT EID could have limited impact and potentially high avoidable costs. This study models the cost-effectiveness of a quality assurance system to address testing performance and screening interruptions, due to, for example, supply stockouts, in Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, with varying HIV epidemics and different health systems. Methods: We modelled a quality assurance system-raised EID quality from suboptimal levels: that is, from misdiagnosis rates of 5%, 10% and 20% and EID testing interruptions in months, to uninterrupted optimal performance (98.5% sensitivity, 99.9% specificity). For each country, we estimated the 1-year impact and cost-effectiveness (US$/DALY averted) of improved scenarios in averting missed HIV infections and unneeded HIV treatment costs for false-positive diagnoses. Results: The modelled 1-year costs of a national POCT quality assurance system range from US$ 69 359 in South Africa to US$ 334 341 in Zimbabwe. At the country level, quality assurance systems could potentially avert between 36 and 711 missed infections (i.e. false negatives) per year and unneeded treatment costs between US$ 5808 and US$ 739 030. Conclusions: The model estimates adding effective quality assurance systems are cost-saving in four of the five countries within the first year. Starting EQA requires an initial investment but will provide a positive return on investment within five years by averting the costs of misdiagnoses and would be even more efficient if implemented across multiple applications of POCT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1235-1245
Number of pages11
JournalTropical Medicine and International Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • cost-effectiveness
  • early infant diagnosis
  • HIV
  • point-of-care testing
  • quality improvement programme

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