This page provides access to all research articles developed by the HIV Modelling Consortium, in addition to meeting reports and relevant reading.
Identifying key drivers of the impact of an HIV cure intervention in sub-Saharan Africa.Abstract:10.1093/infdis/jiw120
BACKGROUND: The properties required of an intervention that results in eradication or control of HIV in absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART-free viral suppression) to make it cost-effective in low income settings are unknown.
METHODS: We used a model of HIV and ART to investigate the effect of introducing an ART-free viral suppression intervention in 2022 in an example country of Zimbabwe. We assumed that the intervention (cost: $500) would be accessible for 90% of the population, be given to those on effective ART, have sufficient efficacy to allow ART interruption in 95%, with a rate of viral rebound 5% per year in the first three months, and a 50% decline in rate with each successive year.
RESULTS: An ART-free viral suppression intervention with these properties would result in over 0.53 million disability-adjusted-life-years averted over 2022-2042, with a reduction in HIV programme costs of $300 million (8.7% saving). An intervention of this efficacy costing anything up to $1400 is likely to be cost-effective in this setting.
CONCLUSION: Interventions aimed at curing HIV have the potential to improve overall disease burden and to reduce costs. Given the effectiveness and cost of ART, such interventions would have to be inexpensive and highly effective.
Evaluation of geospatial methods to generate subnational HIV prevalence estimates for local level planning.Abstract:10.1097/QAD.0000000000001075
OBJECTIVE: There is evidence of substantial subnational variation in the HIV epidemic. However, robust spatial HIV data are often only available at high levels of geographic aggregation and not at the finer resolution needed for decision making. Therefore, spatial analysis methods that leverage available data to provide local estimates of HIV prevalence may be useful. Such methods exist but have not been formally compared when applied to HIV.
DESIGN/METHODS: Six candidate methods - including those used by UNAIDS to generate maps and a Bayesian geostatistical approach applied to other diseases- were used to generate maps and subnational estimates of HIV prevalence across three countries using cluster level data from household surveys. Two approaches were used to assess the accuracy of predictions: (1) internal validation, whereby a proportion of input data is held back (test dataset) to challenge predictions, (2) comparison with location specific data from household surveys in earlier years.
RESULTS: Each of the methods can generate usefully accurate predictions of prevalence at unsampled locations, with the magnitude of the error in predictions similar across approaches. However, the Bayesian geostatistical approach consistently gave marginally the strongest statistical performance across countries and validation procedures.
CONCLUSIONS: Available methods may be able to furnish estimates of HIV prevalence at finer spatial scales than the data currently allow. The subnational variation revealed can be integrated into planning to ensure responsiveness to the spatial features of the epidemic. The Bayesian geostatistical approach is a promising strategy for integrating HIV data to generate robust local estimates.
Sustainable HIV treatment in Africa through viral-load-informed differentiated care.Abstract:10.1038/nature16046
There are inefficiencies in current approaches to monitoring patients on antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa. Patients typically attend clinics every 1 to 3 months for clinical assessment. The clinic costs are comparable with the costs of the drugs themselves and CD4 counts are measured every 6 months, but patients are rarely switched to second-line therapies. To ensure sustainability of treatment programmes, a transition to more cost-effective delivery of antiretroviral therapy is needed. In contrast to the CD4 count, measurement of the level of HIV RNA in plasma (the viral load) provides a direct measure of the current treatment effect. Viral-load-informed differentiated care is a means of tailoring care so that those with suppressed viral load visit the clinic less frequently and attention is focussed on those with unsuppressed viral load to promote adherence and timely switching to a second-line regimen. The most feasible approach to measuring viral load in many countries is to collect dried blood spot samples for testing in regional laboratories; however, there have been concerns over the sensitivity and specificity of this approach to define treatment failure and the delay in returning results to the clinic. We use modelling to synthesize evidence and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of viral-load-informed differentiated care, accounting for limitations of dried blood sample testing. We find that viral-load-informed differentiated care using dried blood sample testing is cost-effective and is a recommended strategy for patient monitoring, although further empirical evidence as the approach is rolled out would be of value. We also explore the potential benefits of point-of-care viral load tests that may become available in the future.
Distinguishing sources of HIV transmission from the distribution of newly acquired HIV infections: why is it important for HIV prevention planning?Abstract:10.1136/sextrans-2013-051250
OBJECTIVE: The term 'source of HIV infections' has been referred to as the source of HIV transmission. It has also been interpreted as the distribution of newly acquired HIV infections across subgroups. We illustrate the importance of distinguishing the two interpretations for HIV prevention planning.
METHODS: We used a dynamical model of heterosexual HIV transmission to simulate three HIV epidemics, and estimated the sources of HIV transmission (cumulative population attributable fraction) and the single-year distribution of new HIV infections. We focused an intervention guided by the largest transmission source versus the largest single-year distribution of new HIV infections, and compared the fraction of discounted HIV infections averted over 30 years.
RESULTS: The single-year distribution of newly acquired HIV infections underestimated the source of HIV transmission in the long term, when the source was unprotected sex in high-risk groups. Under equivalent and finite resources, an intervention strategy directed by the long-term transmission source was shown to achieve a greater impact than a distribution-directed strategy, particularly in the long term.
CONCLUSIONS: Impact of HIV prevention strategies may vary depending on whether they are directed by the long-term transmission source or by the distribution of new HIV infections. Caution is required when interpreting the 'source of HIV infections' to avoid misusing the distribution of new HIV infections in HIV prevention planning.
Towards an improved investment approach for an effective response to HIV/AIDS.Abstract:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60702-2
Substantial changes are needed to achieve a more targeted and strategic approach to investment in the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that will yield long-term dividends. Until now, advocacy for resources has been done on the basis of a commodity approach that encouraged scaling up of numerous strategies in parallel, irrespective of their relative effects. We propose a strategic investment framework that is intended to support better management of national and international HIV/AIDS responses than exists with the present system. Our framework incorporates major efficiency gains through community mobilisation, synergies between programme elements, and benefits of the extension of antiretroviral therapy for prevention of HIV transmission. It proposes three categories of investment, consisting of six basic programmatic activities, interventions that create an enabling environment to achieve maximum effectiveness, and programmatic efforts in other health and development sectors related to HIV/AIDS. The yearly cost of achievement of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support by 2015 is estimated at no less than US$22 billion. Implementation of the new investment framework would avert 12·2 million new HIV infections and 7·4 million deaths from AIDS between 2011 and 2020 compared with continuation of present approaches, and result in 29·4 million life-years gained. The framework is cost effective at $1060 per life-year gained, and the additional investment proposed would be largely offset from savings in treatment costs alone.
What drives the US and Peruvian HIV epidemics in men who have sex with men (MSM)?Abstract:10.1371/journal.pone.0050522
In this work, we estimate the proportions of transmissions occurring in main vs. casual partnerships, and by the sexual role, infection stage, and testing and treatment history of the infected partner, for men who have sex with men (MSM) in the US and Peru. We use dynamic, stochastic models based in exponential random graph models (ERGMs), obtaining inputs from multiple large-scale MSM surveys. Parallel main partnership and casual sexual networks are simulated. Each man is characterized by age, race, circumcision status, sexual role behavior, and propensity for unprotected anal intercourse (UAI); his history is modeled from entry into the adult population, with potential transitions including HIV infection, detection, treatment, AIDS diagnosis, and death. We implemented two model variants differing in assumptions about acute infectiousness, and assessed sensitivity to other key inputs. Our two models suggested that only 4-5% (Model 1) or 22-29% (Model 2) of HIV transmission results from contacts with acute-stage partners; the plurality (80-81% and 49%, respectively) stem from chronic-stage partners and the remainder (14-16% and 27-35%, respectively) from AIDS-stage partners. Similar proportions of infections stem from partners whose infection is undiagnosed (24-31%), diagnosed but untreated (36-46%), and currently being treated (30-36%). Roughly one-third of infections (32-39%) occur within main partnerships. Results by country were qualitatively similar, despite key behavioral differences; one exception was that transmission from the receptive to insertive partner appears more important in Peru (34%) than the US (21%). The broad balance in transmission contexts suggests that education about risk, careful assessment, pre-exposure prophylaxis, more frequent testing, earlier treatment, and risk-reduction, disclosure, and adherence counseling may all contribute substantially to reducing the HIV incidence among MSM in the US and Peru.
Summary Report from HIV MC Symposium: A Dialogue Between Program Planners and Model Makers
Allocative Efficiency Tools Workshop Meeting Report
Meeting Report from Consultation Meeting on Implementation Issues for Monitoring people on ART in sub-Saharan Africa