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Background: The number of people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) requiring treatment monitoring in low-resource settings is rapidly increasing. Point-of-care (POC) testing for ART monitoring might alleviate burden on centralised laboratories and improve clinical outcomes, but its cost-effectiveness is unknown. Methods: We used cost and effectiveness data from the STREAM trial in South Africa (February, 2017–October, 2018), which evaluated POC testing for viral load, CD4 count, and creatinine, with task shifting from professional to lower-cadre registered nurses compared with laboratory-based testing without task shifting (standard of care). We parameterised an agent-based network model, EMOD-HIV, to project the impact of implementing this intervention in South Africa over 20 years, simulating approximately 175 000 individuals per run. We assumed POC monitoring increased viral suppression by 9 percentage points, enrolment into community-based ART delivery by 25 percentage points, and switching to second-line ART by 1 percentage point compared with standard of care, as reported in the STREAM trial. We evaluated POC implementation in varying clinic sizes (10–50 patient initiating ART per month). We calculated incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) and report the mean and 90% model variability of 250 runs, using a cost-effectiveness threshold of US$500 per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) averted for our main analysis. Findings: POC testing at 70% coverage of patients on ART was projected to reduce HIV infections by 4·5% (90% model variability 1·6 to 7·6) and HIV-related deaths by 3·9% (2·0 to 6·0). In clinics with 30 ART initiations per month, the intervention had an ICER of $197 (90% model variability –27 to 863) per DALY averted; results remained cost-effective when varying background viral suppression, ART dropout, intervention effectiveness, and reduction in HIV transmissibility. At higher clinic volumes (≥40 ART initiations per month), POC testing was cost-saving and at lower clinic volumes (20 ART initiations per month) the ICER was $734 (93 to 2569). A scenario that assumed POC testing did not increase enrolment into community ART delivery produced ICERs that exceeded the cost-effectiveness threshold for all clinic volumes. Interpretation: POC testing is a promising strategy to cost-effectively improve patient outcomes in moderately sized clinics in South Africa. Results are most sensitive to changes in intervention impact on enrolment into community-based ART delivery. Funding: National Institutes of Health.

Original publication




Journal article


The Lancet HIV

Publication Date





e216 - e224