The per-patient costs of HIV services in South Africa: Systematic review and application in the South African HIV Investment Case


In economic analyses of HIV interventions, South Africa is often used as a case in point, due to the availability of good epidemiological and programme data and the global relevance of its epidemic. Few analyses however use locally relevant cost data. We reviewed available cost data as part of the South African HIV Investment Case, a modelling exercise to inform the optimal use of financial resources for the country’s HIV programme.


We systematically reviewed publication databases for published cost data covering a large range of HIV interventions and summarised relevant unit costs (cost per person receiving a service) for each. Where no data was found in the literature, we constructed unit costs either based on available information regarding ingredients and relevant public-sector prices, or based on expenditure records.


Only 42 (5%) of 1,047 records included in our full-text review reported primary cost data on HIV interventions in South Africa, with 71% of included papers covering ART. Other papers detailed the costs of HCT, MMC, palliative and inpatient care; no papers were found on the costs of PrEP, social and behaviour change communication, and PMTCT. The results informed unit costs for 5 of 11 intervention categories included in the Investment Case, with the remainder costed based on ingredients (35%) and expenditure data (10%).


A large number of modelled economic analyses of HIV interventions in South Africa use as inputs the same, often outdated, cost analyses, without reference to additional literature review. More primary cost analyses of non-ART interventions are needed.