To assess the costs of rapid human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing and counseling to identify new diagnoses of HIV infection among jail inmates.
We obtained program costs and testing outcomes from rapid HIV testing and counseling services provided in jails from March 1, 2004, through February 28, 2005, in Florida, Louisiana, New York, and Wisconsin. We obtained annual program delivery costs—fixed and variable costs—from each project area. We estimated the average cost of providing counseling and testing to HIV-negative and HIV-infected inmates and estimated the cost per newly diagnosed HIV infection.
In the 4 project areas, 17,433 inmates (range, 2185–6463) were tested: HIV infection was diagnosed for 152 inmates (range, 4–81). The average cost of testing ranged from $29.46 to $44.98 for an HIV-negative inmate and from $71.37 to $137.72 for an HIV-infected inmate. The average cost per newly diagnosed HIV infection ranged from $2,451 to $25,288. Variable costs were 61% to 86% of total costs.
The cost of identifying jail inmates with newly diagnosed HIV infection by using rapid HIV testing varied according to the prevalence of undiagnosed HIV infection among inmates tested in project areas. Variations in the cost of testing HIV-negative and HIV-infected inmates were because of the differences in wages, travel to the jails, and the amount of time spent on counseling and testing. Program managers can use these data to gauge the cost of initiating counseling and testing programs in jails or to streamline current programs.