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Economic evaluation of universal prenatal HIV screening compared with current ‘at risk’ policy in a very low prevalence country
  1. Michal Chowers1,
  2. Oren Shavit2
  1. 1Infectious Diseases Unit, Meir Medical Center, Kfar Saba and the Sackler Medical School, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel
  2. 2Meuhedet Health Fund, Tel Aviv and the School of Pharmacy, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michal Chowers, 59 Tsharnichovski st, Kfar Saba 44281, Israel; chowersm{at}


Objectives Our objective was to economically evaluate universal HIV prenatal screening in Israel, a very low prevalence country (0.1%), compared with the current policy of testing only women belonging to high-risk (HR) groups.

Design A cost-effectiveness analytical model was constructed. Life expectancies, direct medical costs and utility weights of an HIV-positive newborn and a healthy newborn were derived from the literature. Screening was assessed using fourth-generation combo tests. Structural uncertainties were discussed with leading Israeli HIV experts. Univariate and multivariate sensitivity analyses were conducted to account for uncertainty of the model's parameters.

Results Under the current policy, about 2700 women are tested annually identifying 27 HIV-positive women. With the universal screening, 171 000 women would be tested yearly identifying 37 as HIV positive. The analysis included the increased life expectancy of vertically infected children based on current standards of care. Over the lifetime expectancy, universal screening is projected to grant 15 additional quality-adjusted life years and save $177 521 when compared with the current HR only policy.

Conclusions Universal prenatal HIV screening is projected to be cost saving in Israel, despite a very low HIV prevalence in the general population.

  • AIDS

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  • Handling editor Jackie A Cassell

  • Contributors MC: concept and design, interpretation of data, drafting the manuscript and final approval of the version to be published. OS: study design, analysis and interpretation of data, revising the manuscript critically and final approval of the version to be published.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Meir MC Ethics committee (Institutional review board approval number 0034-12-MMC).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.