Evaluating the potential impact and cost-effectiveness of dapivirine vaginal ring pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention
BACKGROUND: Expanded HIV prevention options are needed to increase uptake of HIV prevention among women, especially in generalized epidemics. As the dapivirine vaginal ring moves forward through regulatory review and open-label extension studies, the potential public health impact and cost-effectiveness of this new prevention method are not fully known. We used mathematical modeling to explore the impact and cost-effectiveness of the ring in different implementation scenarios alongside scale-up of other HIV prevention interventions. Given the knowledge gaps about key factors influencing the ring’s implementation, including potential uptake and delivery costs, we engaged in a stakeholder consultation process to elicit plausible parameter ranges and explored scenarios to identify the possible range of impact, cost, and cost-effectiveness.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: We used the Goals model to simulate scenarios of oral and ring pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) implementation among female sex workers and among other women ≤21 years or >21 years with multiple male partners, in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. In these scenarios, we varied antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage, dapivirine ring coverage and ring effectiveness (encompassing efficacy and adherence) by risk group. Following discussions with stakeholders, the maximum level of PrEP coverage (oral and/or ring) considered in each country was equal to modern contraception use minus condom use in the two age groups. We assessed results for 18 years, from 2018 to 2035. In South Africa, for example, the HIV infections averted by PrEP (ring plus oral PrEP) ranged from 310,000 under the highest-impact scenario (including ART held constant at 2017 levels, high ring coverage, and 85% ring effectiveness) to 55,000 under the lowest-impact scenario (including ART reaching the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020, low ring coverage, and 30% ring effectiveness). This represented a range of 6.4% to 2.2% of new HIV infections averted. Given our assumptions, the addition of the ring results in 11% to 132% more impact than oral PrEP alone. The cost per HIV infection averted for the ring ranged from US$13,000 to US$121,000.
CONCLUSIONS: This analysis offers a wide range of scenarios given the considerable uncertainty over ring uptake, consistency of use, and effectiveness, as well as HIV testing, prevention, and treatment use over the next two decades. This could help inform donors and implementers as they decide where to allocate resources in order to maximize the impact of the dapivirine ring in light of funding and implementation constraints. Better understanding of the cost and potential uptake of the intervention would improve our ability to estimate its cost-effectiveness and assess where it can have the most impact.