Original Research Article

Applied Health Economics and Health Policy

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 229-243

First online:

The cost effectiveness of home-based provision of antiretroviral therapy in rural Uganda

  • Elliot MarseilleAffiliated withHealth Strategies International Email author 
  • , James G. KahnAffiliated withSuper Models for Global Health, and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California
  • , Christian PitterAffiliated withElizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation
  • , Rebecca BunnellAffiliated withGlobal AIDS Program, National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, CDC-Kenya
  • , William EpalataiAffiliated withGlobal AIDS Program, CDC-Uganda
  • , Emmanuel JaweAffiliated withGlobal AIDS Program, CDC-Uganda
  • , Willy WereAffiliated withGlobal AIDS Program, CDC-Uganda
  • , Jonathan MerminAffiliated withGlobal AIDS Program, National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, CDC-Kenya

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Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) provides dramatic health benefits for HIV-infected individuals in Africa, and widespread implementation of HAART is proceeding rapidly. Little is known about the cost and cost effectiveness of HAART programmes.


To determine the incremental cost effectiveness of a home-based HAART programme in rural Uganda.


A computer-based, deterministic cost-effectiveness model was used to assess a broad range of economic inputs and health outcomes. From the societal perspective, the cost effectiveness of HAART and cotrimoxazole prophylaxis was compared with cotrimoxazole alone, and with the period before either intervention. Data for 24 months were derived from a trial of home-based HAART in 1045 patients in the Tororo District in eastern Uganda. Costs and outcomes were projected out to 15 years. All costs are in year 2004 values. The main outcome measures were HAART programme costs, health benefits accruing to HAART recipients, averted HIV infections in adults and children and the resulting effects on medical care costs.

The first-line HAART regimen consisted of standard doses of stavudine, lamivudine, and either nevirapine or, for patients with active tuberculosis, efavirenz. Second-line therapy consisted of tenofovir, didanosine and lopinavir/ritonavir. For children, first-line HAART consisted of zidovudine, lamivudine and nevirapine syrup; second-line therapy was stavudine, didanosine and lopinavir/ritonavir.


The HAART programme, standardized for 1000 patients, cost an incremental $US1.39 million in its first 2 years. Compared with cotrimoxazole prophylaxis alone, the programme reduced mortality by 87%, and averted 6861 incremental disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs). Benefits were accrued from reduced mortality in HIV-infected adults (67.5% of all benefits), prevention of death in HIV-negative children (20.7%), averted HIV infections in adults (9.1%) and children (1.0%), and improved health status (1.7%). The net programme cost, including the medical cost implications of these health benefits, was $US4.10 million. The net cost per DALY averted was $US597 compared with cotrimoxazole alone. Many HIV interventions have a cost-effectiveness ratio in the range of $US1-150 per DALY averted.


This study suggests that a home-based HAART programme in rural Africa may be more cost effective than most previous estimates for facility-based HAART programmes, but remains less cost effective than many HIV prevention and care interventions, including cotrimoxazole prophylaxis.