The first cost-benefit study of PrEP administration shows that the public system would save €93 million over 40 years | A total of 2,400 people are receiving this preventive antiretroviral treatment against HIV infection in Catalonia, since the National Health System decided to fund its use in 2019
A cost-benefit study led by the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation, in collaboration with the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute -a centre jointly promoted by the "la Caixa" Foundation and the Department of Health of the Generalitat de Catalunya-, the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital, the Centre for Research in Economics and Health (CRES) of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and the NOMS-Hispanosida project of BCN Checkpoint, has calculated the potential savings that the widespread use of preventive treatment against HIV infection (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, PrEP) could generate in the public health system. Considering that people with HIV live an average of approximately 40 years from the time of diagnosis, the public health system could save 93 million euros in that period of time through the use of PrEP.
This study, presented at the 12th National Congress of GESIDA, has also calculated that annual PrEP treatment per person costs €1,433, while the cost of antiretroviral treatment for an HIV-infected person is almost six times higher, amounting to approximately €8,500. The authors of the study estimated that if the price of PrEP were reduced by 50%, the savings would be €152 million, resources that would begin to pay for themselves only eight years after its implementation.
PrEP in Catalonia
According to the latest UN figures, AIDS kills an estimated 690,000 people worldwide and, although the number of diagnoses continues to fall year on year, it still has a major impact on certain at-risk populations. In Spain, for example, men who have sex with men accounted for 57% of new diagnoses.
In this context, the use of PrEP to prevent HIV has been implemented in many countries and has proven to be an effective tool. PrEP is an antiretroviral medication taken by people who do not have HIV to prevent infection. According to the latest available data, there are around 5,000 PrEP users in Spain. In Catalonia there are 2,400.
Francesc López, researcher at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital, the Centre for Health Economics Research and the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation, and lead author of the study, said that the results of this study "suggest that preventive health interventions can also benefit the health system: devoting efforts to prevent the disease today will mean lower health spending tomorrow". Pep Coll, a doctor and researcher at IrsiCaixa, the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation and BCN Checkpoint, and co-author of the study, said that "PrEP is showing that it is possible to drastically reduce new HIV infections. What needs to be done now is to facilitate access to PrEP for all those at risk of infection".
About the study
This study was made possible thanks to the joint work of medical and research staff, as well as health economics specialists from the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation, the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute, the BCN Checkpoint community health centre and the Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital. The collaboration among these institutions has made it possible for the distribution of PrEP in Catalonia to be a model of success and has allowed thousands of people to have access to preventive treatment against HIV infection.