A study performed in Canada showed that every dollar a community spent on HIV-prevention methods resulted in saving five dollars in treatment. Over the past 25 years, programs costing about $1.3 billion dollars have resulted in approximately $6.5 billion less in treatment. That is a tremendous savings for an already financially burdened health care system. Let’s take a look at why prevention is so cost effective as opposed to treatment.

The Economic Burden of HIV

HIV treatments now allow patients to live a long, full life. That is good news for patients, but financial burdensome for health care systems because it means patients receive treatment for years longer than they once did. For example, in the US, it costs, on average, more than a quarter of a million dollars to treat an HIV positive person over the course of their lifetime, some costing as much as $400K. The same holds true in Canada with lifetime treatment costing a little over $285,000 USD per patient.

Where Community-Based Programs Prove Most Effective

Preventative programs are generally run by local and national non-profit groups. These organizations work to provide ongoing:

  • Education
  • Prevention
  • Support Services

These programs target at-risk groups including, but not limited to:

  • Homosexual men
  • Those who use injectable drugs
  • HIV endemic populations

Other Prevention Savings Considerations

The researchers claim that not all of the HIV-prevention methods were taken into account in the study and that even more savings took place than was recorded. Specifically, claims are made that an additional 70,000 infections were prevented by other programs. This resulted in an additional $25 billion in health care savings. This includes a treatment option that was released back in 1997 called highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART. Three or more drugs are combined for HAART treatment, and these medications delay the onset of HIV symptoms, preventing the disease from progressing into AIDS.