Objective: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised their HIV screening guidelines to promote testing and earlier entry to care. Prior analyses have examined the policy's cost-effectiveness but have not evaluated its impact on government budgets.
Methods: We used a simulation model of HIV screening, disease, and treatment to determine the budget impact of expanded HIV screening to US government discretionary, entitlement, and testing programs. We estimated total and incremental testing and treatment costs over a 5-year time horizon under current and expanded screening scenarios. We used CDC estimates of HIV prevalence and annual incidence, and considered variations in screening frequency, test return rates, linkage to care, test characteristics, and eligibility for government screening and treatment programs.
Results: Under current practice, 177,000 new HIV cases will be identified over 5 years. Expanded screening will identify an additional 46,000 cases at an incremental 5-year cost of $2.7 billion. The financial burden of expanded HIV screening will fall disproportionately on discretionary programs that fund care for newly identified patients and will not be offset by entitlement program savings. Testing will represent a small proportion (18%) of the total budget increase. Costs are sensitive to the frequency of screening and the proportion linked to care.
Conclusions: The expanded HIV screening program will have a large downstream impact on government programs that fund HIV care. Expanded HIV screening will not meet early treatment goals unless government programs have sufficient budgets to expand testing and provide care for newly identified cases.