Background: The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90–90–90 global treatment target aims to achieve 73% virologic suppression among HIV-infected persons worldwide by 2020.
Objective: To estimate the clinical and economic value of reaching this ambitious goal in South Africa, by using a microsimulation model of HIV detection, disease, and treatment.
Design: Modeling of the “current pace” strategy, which simulates existing scale-up efforts and gradual increases in overall virologic suppression from 24% to 36% in 5 years, and the UNAIDS target strategy, which simulates 73% virologic suppression in 5 years.
Data Sources: Published estimates and South African survey data on HIV transmission rates (0.16 to 9.03 per 100 person-years), HIV-specific age-stratified fertility rates (1.0 to 9.1 per 100 person-years), and costs of care ($11 to $31 per month for antiretroviral therapy and $20 to $157 per month for routine care).
Target Population: South African HIV-infected population, including incident infections over the next 10 years.
Perspective: Modified societal perspective, excluding time and productivity costs.
Time Horizon: 5 and 10 years.
Intervention: Aggressive HIV case detection, efficient linkage to care, rapid treatment scale-up, and adherence and retention interventions toward the UNAIDS target strategy.
Outcome Measures: HIV transmissions, deaths, years of life saved, maternal orphans, costs (2014 U.S. dollars), and cost-effectiveness.
Results of Base-Case Analysis: Compared with the current pace strategy, over 5 years the UNAIDS target strategy would avert 873 000 HIV transmissions, 1 174 000 deaths, and 726 000 maternal orphans while saving 3 002 000 life-years; over 10 years, it would avert 2 051 000 HIV transmissions, 2 478 000 deaths, and 1 689 000 maternal orphans while saving 13 340 000 life-years. The additional budget required for the UNAIDS target strategy would be $7.965 billion over 5 years and $15.979 billion over 10 years, yielding an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $2720 and $1260 per year of life saved, respectively.
Results of Sensitivity Analysis: Outcomes generally varied less than 20% from base-case outcomes when key input parameters were varied within plausible ranges.
Limitation: Several pathways may lead to 73% overall virologic suppression; these were examined in sensitivity analyses.
Conclusion: Reaching the 90–90–90 HIV suppression target would be costly but very effective and cost-effective in South Africa. Global health policymakers should mobilize the political and economic support to realize this target.
Primary Funding Source: National Institutes of Health and the Steve and Deborah Gorlin MGH Research Scholars Award.