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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Funding antiretroviral treatment for HIV-positive temporary residents in Australia prevents transmission and is inexpensive

Richard T. Gray A I , Jo Watson B , Aaron J. Cogle B , Don E. Smith C D , Jennifer F. Hoy E , Lisa A. Bastian F , Robert Finlayson G , Fraser M. Drummond H , Bill Whittaker B , Matthew G. Law A and Kathy Petoumenos A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Sydney, NSW 2042, Australia.

C Albion Centre, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

D School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

E Department of Infectious Diseases, The Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Melbourne Vic. 3181, Australia.

F Western Australian Department of Health, Perth, WA 6004, Australia.

G Taylor Square Private Clinic, Taylor Square, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

H ViiV Healthcare, Abbotsford, VIC 3067, Australia.

I Corresponding author. Email: Rgray@kirby.unsw.edu.au

Sexual Health - https://doi.org/10.1071/SH16237
Submitted: 19 December 2016  Accepted: 14 June 2017   Published online: 6 September 2017

Abstract

Background: The aim of this study is to estimate the reduction in new HIV infections and resultant cost outcomes of providing antiretroviral treatment (ART) through Australia’s ‘universal access’ health scheme to all temporary residents with HIV infection living legally in Australia, but currently deemed ineligible to access subsidised ART via this scheme. Methods: A mathematical model to estimate the number of new HIV infections averted and the associated lifetime costs over 5 years if all HIV-positive temporary residents in Australia had access to ART and subsidised medical care was developed. Input data came from a cohort of 180 HIV-positive temporary residents living in Australia who are receiving free ART donated by pharmaceutical companies for up to 4 years. Results: Expanding ART access to an estimated total 450 HIV+ temporary residents in Australia for 5 years could avert 80 new infections. The model estimated the total median discounted (5%) cost for ART and associated care to be A$36 million, while the total savings in lifetime-discounted costs for the new infections averted was A$22 million. Conclusions: It is estimated that expanded access to ART for all HIV-positive temporary residents in Australia will substantially reduce HIV transmission to their sexual partners at little additional cost. In the context of Australia’s National HIV strategy and Australia’s endorsement of global goals to provide universal access to ART for all people with HIV, this is an important measure to remove inequities in the provision of HIV-related treatment and care.

Additional keywords: antiretroviral therapy, Australia, HIV prevention, mathematical modelling, migrants, treatment access.


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