Objective: In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV-infected adults who fail second-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) often do not have access to third-line ART. We examined the clinical impact and cost-effectiveness of making third-line ART available in Côte d'Ivoire.
Methods: We used a simulation model to compare 4 strategies after second-line ART failure: continue second-line ART (C-ART2), continue second-line ART with an adherence reinforcement intervention (AR-ART2), immediate switch to third-line ART (IS-ART3), and continue second-line ART with adherence reinforcement, switching patients with persistent failure to third-line ART (AR-ART3). Third-line ART consisted of a boosted-darunavir plus raltegravir-based regimen. Primary outcomes were 10-year survival and lifetime incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs), in $/year of life saved (YLS). ICERs below $3585 (3 times the country per capita gross domestic product) were considered cost-effective.
Results: Ten-year survival was 6.0% with C-ART2, 17.0% with AR-ART2, 35.4% with IS-ART3, and 37.2% with AR-ART3. AR-ART2 was cost-effective ($1100/YLS). AR-ART3 had an ICER of $3600/YLS and became cost-effective if the cost of third-line ART decreased by <1%. IS-ART3 was less effective and more costly than AR-ART3. Results were robust to wide variations in the efficacy of third-line ART and of the adherence reinforcement, as well as in the cost of second-line ART.
Conclusions: Access to third-line ART combined with an intense adherence reinforcement phase, used as a tool to distinguish between patients who can still benefit from their current second-line regimen and those who truly need third-line ART would provide substantial survival benefits. With minor decreases in drug costs, this strategy would be cost-effective.