Background: Structural interventions are theoretically promising for populations with a low prevalence of HIV, because they can reach large numbers of people to influence their social norms and collective risky behaviors for a relatively low cost per person. Because HIV transmission is continuing to increase among women in the southern United States, interventions to stem this epidemic are particularly warranted. This study explores whether structural interventions may be a cost-effective way to prevent HIV in this population.
Methods: We used the cost-effectiveness estimator, “Maximizing the Benefit” to determine the relative cost-effectiveness of 6 structural HIV prevention interventions. “Maximizing the Benefit” is a spreadsheet tool using mathematical models to estimate the cost per HIV infection prevented taking into account the epidemiologic contexts, behavioral change as a result of an intervention, and the costs of intervention. We applied estimates of HIV prevalence related to blacks in the southern United States.
Results: All the structural interventions were cost-effective compared with average lifetime treatment costs of HIV, but mass media, condom availability, and alcohol taxes theoretically prevented the largest numbers of HIV infections.
Conclusions: Although the assumptions used in cost-effectiveness estimates have many limitations, they do allow for a relative comparison of different interventions and help to inform policy decisions related to the allocation of HIV prevention resources. Structural interventions hold the greatest promise in reducing HIV transmission among low-prevalence populations.
Although the assumptions used in cost-effectiveness estimates have many limitations, they do allow for a relative comparison of different interventions and help to inform policy decisions related to the allocation of HIV prevention resources.
From *RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California; and †Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana
Correspondence: Deborah Cohen, MD, MPH, RAND Corporation, 1700 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405. E-mail: email@example.com
Received for publication August 10, 2004, and accepted December 13, 2004.