Effectiveness of and Financial Returns to Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention in South Africa: An Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
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CitationHaacker, Markus, Nicole Fraser-Hurt, and Marelize Gorgens. 2016. “Effectiveness of and Financial Returns to Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention in South Africa: An Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Analysis.” PLoS Medicine 13 (5): e1002012. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002012.
AbstractBackground: Empirical studies and population-level policy simulations show the importance of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) in generalized epidemics. This paper complements available scenario-based studies (projecting costs and outcomes over some policy period, typically spanning decades) by adopting an incremental approach—analyzing the expected consequences of circumcising one male individual with specific characteristics in a specific year. This approach yields more precise estimates of VMMC’s cost-effectiveness and identifies the outcomes of current investments in VMMC (e.g., within a fiscal budget period) rather than of investments spread over the entire policy period. Methods/Findings: The model has three components. We adapted the ASSA2008 model, a demographic and epidemiological model of the HIV epidemic in South Africa, to analyze the impact of one VMMC on HIV incidence over time and across the population. A costing module tracked the costs of VMMC and the resulting financial savings owing to reduced HIV incidence over time. Then, we used several financial indicators to assess the cost-effectiveness of and financial return on investments in VMMC. One circumcision of a young man up to age 20 prevents on average over 0.2 HIV infections, but this effect declines steeply with age, e.g., to 0.08 by age 30. Net financial savings from one VMMC at age 20 are estimated at US$617 at a discount rate of 5% and are lower for circumcisions both at younger ages (because the savings occur later and are discounted more) and at older ages (because male circumcision becomes less effective). Investments in male circumcision carry a financial rate of return of up to 14.5% (for circumcisions at age 20). The cost of a male circumcision is refinanced fastest, after 13 y, for circumcisions at ages 20 to 25. Principal limitations of the analysis arise from the long time (decades) over which the effects of VMMC unfold—the results are therefore sensitive to the discount rate applied, and more generally to the future course of the epidemic and of HIV/AIDS-related policies pursued by the government. Conclusions: VMMC in South Africa is highly effective in reducing both HIV incidence and the financial costs of the HIV response. The return on investment is highest if males are circumcised between ages 20 and 25, but this return on investment declines steeply with age.
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