Up-front cost for treating an HIV-infected patient in Africa is $30 USD per visit

07/08/04

News tip from the 2004, XV International Conference on AIDS, July 11-16, Bangkok, Thailand

(Embargoed for release at 6 a.m. ET, or 5 p.m. local, Bangkok time, Sunday, July 11. This oral presentation will take place from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., local, Bangkok time, Tuesday, July 13, Session Room D, IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand.)

Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, have determined that the actual average cost for providing primary care to an HIV-infected patient is $30 USD per visit.

"Health care providers and government policy makers can use the information to plan and prepare budgets for aid programs in South and sub-Saharan Africa, where new infections increasingly overwhelm local health services," says study co-author Neil Martinson, M.P.H., research associate, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

While the costs associated with secondary therapy - using antiretroviral medications - are significant and well known, little information has to date been available about the other costs associated with care. On average, there is a three-month period of primary care, such as laboratory tests, for people who are HIV-infected, before they can start anti-retroviral therapy.

The six-month study looked at the costs associated with providing primary care to nearly 2,000 patients. Actual costs ranged from $25 for a basic visit to $50 per visit when screening tests were performed. Included in the $30 average figure are costs for staff (35 percent, primarily a nurse supported by a community doctor), plus laboratory tests (26 percent), drugs (11 percent), and X-rays (5 percent). Remaining costs were associated with overhead.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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