"Although model projections can only provide estimates of health benefits and costs, such analyses can provide intuition around critical mechanisms and assumptions to inform decision making. Our main finding is that, over 20 y, high coverage (enrollment of 50% of the eligible population) of OAT [Opioid Agonist Therapy], NSPs [Needle and Syringe Programs], and Test & Treat in combination could avert nearly 43,400 (95% CI: 23,000, 74,000) HIV infections among PWID [People Who Inject Drugs] and reduce HIV prevalence among PWID by 27% (95% CI: 12%, 45%). The construction of such a portfolio has the potential to be cost-effective at each incremental expansion, with projected ICERs below US$50,000 per QALY [Quality-Adjusted Life Year] gained. Moreover, our analysis suggests that the estimated benefit obtainable by PrEP alone (measured in QALYs) could potentially be achieved and even surpassed at substantially lower cost by combining other prevention interventions into high-value portfolios.

"Advocates for efficient investment in PWID-specific interventions have asked, “What good is preventing HIV if we do not first save that life at HIV risk?” [77]. Our analysis suggests that the high competing mortality risks of PWID can explain why interventions that immediately improve quality of life can have substantially higher estimated benefits than those that focus on HIV prevention alone. Our analysis estimates that OAT, in particular, which we assume has a direct impact on the length and quality of life of treated individuals [27,28,3032,60,61], can provide substantially more benefit, measured in QALYs, than other interventions, even when it prevents fewer infections (Table 2).

"Although our analysis did not identify a scenario in which OAT was not a cost-effective addition to a high-value portfolio, deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses can provide intuition regarding scenarios in which NSPs could replace OAT as the priority investment. Because the assumed delivery cost of NSPs is so much lower than that of other programs, our findings suggest that it is reasonable to invest in NSPs concurrent with OAT scale-up. While Test & Treat is often estimated in our analysis to be a cost-effective addition to the portfolio, our model does not project it to be a priority investment. Our estimates for ART’s reduction of transmission risk via injection-based contact [13,44] are lower than those for sexual contact [14,41,44], which may explain our projection of smaller benefits in the PWID population. It should also be noted that HIV prevalence in US PWID is less than 10% [18], and the direct QALY increases from Test & Treat programs were therefore low relative to programs that served the entire PWID population."


Bernard CL, Owens DK, Goldhaber-Fiebert JD, Brandeau ML. Estimation of the cost-effectiveness of HIV prevention portfolios for people who inject drugs in the United States: A model-based analysis. PLoS Med. 2017;14(5):e1002312. Published 2017 May 24. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002312