Introduction: HIV self-testing (HIVST) is effective in improving the uptake of HIV testing among key populations. Complementary data on the cost-effectiveness of HIVST is critical for planning and scaling up HIVST. This study aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a community-based organization (CBO)-led HIVST model implemented in China.
Method: A cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) was conducted by comparing a CBO-led HIVST model with a CBO-led facility-based HIV rapid diagnostics testing (HIV-RDT) model. The full economic cost, including fixed and variable cost, from a health provider perspective using a micro costing approach was estimated. We determined the cost-effectiveness of these two HIV testing models over a two year time horizon (i.e. duration of the programs), and reported costs using US dollars (2020).
Results: From January 2017 to December 2018, a total of 4,633 men tested in the HIVST model, and 1,780 men tested in the HIV-RDT model. The total number of new diagnosis was 155 for HIVST and 126 for the HIV-RDT model; the HIV test positivity was 3.3% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.8-3.9) for the HIVST model and 7.1% (95% CI: 5.9-8.4) for the HIV-RDT model. The mean cost per person tested was $14.57 for HIVST and $24.74 for HIV-RDT. However, the mean cost per diagnosed was higher for HIVST ($435.52) compared with $349.44 for HIV-RDT.
Conclusion: Our study confirms that compared to facility-based HIV-RDT, a community-based organization led HIVST program could have a cheaper mean cost per MSM tested for HIV in China. Better targeting of high-risk individuals would further improve the cost-effectiveness of HIVST.