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

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

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David March EurekAlert!

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