HIV PrEP Program for Injection Drug Users Proven Costly

An HIV PrEP program would cost about $44 billion, but could prevent 21,500 new infections.

A recent study found that HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) intervention is too expensive to treat the injection drug user population.

According to the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, daily oral PrEP has been recommended by the CDC as an option for injection drug users with a high risk of becoming infected with HIV.

Researchers created a computer model of the HIV population in the United States to determine the public health benefit and cost of a national PrEP program for injection drug users in particular.

The model evaluated PrEP alone, PrEP with frequent screening, and PrEP with frequent screening and treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) in patients who become infected.

According to the study, over a period of 20 years, enrolling a quarter of HIV-infected injection drug users in PrEP with frequent screening and treatment with ART would be the best approach to reducing the number of HIV infections.

This program would cost an additional $44 billion, which is about 10% of the federal budget for domestic HIV/AIDS.

This program would prevent around 21,500 new infections over the 20-year period, making it cost-prohibited, according to the study.

Even at lower prices, the program may not be an effective method to use those HIV prevention resources.

Researchers concluded that the money could be better spend to increase access to naloxone therapy, medical insurance and detoxification programs, opioid agonist therapy, and needle exchange programs.