By any measure, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – in which CDC plays a key role – has proven to be a great success. Since its launch in 2003, PEPFAR has provided life-saving antiretroviral drug treatment for nearly 4 million people worldwide and last year alone provided care and support for nearly 13 million people and helped more than 200,000 infants to be born HIV-free. Still, millions more people are infected with the HIV virus ever year, many of them children.
The bottom line? We need to work harder and smarter to take advantage of the new science for preventing HIV infections – all the more essential in the context of current global financial challenges. I am in Washington, DC this week at the International AIDS Society Conference to discuss how public health economics can contribute to achieving the goal of an AIDS-free generation.
Over the last few years, CDC has been conducting groundbreaking economic research and analyses in support of the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, which administers PEPFAR. We found that the cost to PEPFAR for HIV treatment had dropped dramatically, from nearly $1100 per patient in 2004 to $335 in 2011. Importantly, this work also documented factors contributing to lowered costs including operational efficiencies. These findings informed the development of U.S. policy to accelerate PEPFAR goals in a budget-constrained era. They are now being used to stretch every dollar to reap the benefits of the latest science, which includes treatment as an important component of an effective prevention strategy. CDC has also developed tools for linking program costs to outputs, enabling PEPFAR in-country teams to ensure adoption of the most efficient practices.
The efficiency gains identified through CDC’s innovative work in public health economics are now being translated into more lives saved, more productive adults, and more sustainable programs for countries – and get us closer to finally turning the tide in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Declining PEPFAR Costs of HIV Treatment