The potential impact and cost of focusing hiv prevention on young women and men: a modeling analysis in Western Kenya.
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OBJECTIVE: We compared the impact and costs of HIV prevention strategies focusing on youth (15-24 year-old persons) versus on adults (15+ year-old persons), in a high-HIV burden context of a large generalized epidemic. DESIGN: Compartmental age-structured mathematical model of HIV transmission in Nyanza, Kenya. INTERVENTIONS: The interventions focused on youth were high coverage HIV testing (80% of youth), treatment at diagnosis (TasP, i.e., immediate start of antiretroviral therapy [ART]) and 10% increased condom usage for HIV-positive diagnosed youth, male circumcision for HIV-negative young men, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk HIV-negative females (ages 20-24 years), and cash transfer for in-school HIV-negative girls (ages 15-19 years). Permutations of these were compared to adult-focused HIV testing coverage with condoms and TasP. RESULTS: The youth-focused strategy with ART treatment at diagnosis and condom use without adding interventions for HIV-negative youth performed better than the adult-focused strategy with adult testing reaching 50-60% coverage and TasP/condoms. Over the long term, the youth-focused strategy approached the performance of 70% adult testing and TasP/condoms. When high coverage male circumcision also is added to the youth-focused strategy, the combined intervention outperformed the adult-focused strategy with 70% testing, for at least 35 years by averting 94,000 more infections, averting 5.0 million more disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), and saving US$46.0 million over this period. The addition of prevention interventions beyond circumcision to the youth-focused strategy would be more beneficial if HIV care costs are high, or when program delivery costs are relatively high for programs encompassing HIV testing coverage exceeding 70%, TasP and condoms to HIV-infected adults compared to combination prevention programs among youth. CONCLUSION: For at least the next three decades, focusing in high burden settings on high coverage HIV testing, ART treatment upon diagnosis, condoms and male circumcision among youth may outperform adult-focused ART treatment upon diagnosis programs, unless the adult testing coverage in these programs reaches very high levels (>70% of all adults reached) at similar program costs. Our results indicate the potential importance of age-targeting for HIV prevention in the current era of 'test and start, ending AIDS' goals to ameliorate the HIV epidemic globally.
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