How to estimate the cost of point-of-care CD4 testing in program settings: An example using the Alere PimaTM analyser in South Africa

By Bruce Larson  Kathryn Schnippel, Buyiswa Ndibongo  Dr. Lawrence Long  Dr. Matthew Fox  Professor Sydney Rosen  |  | 


Integrating POC CD4 testing technologies into HIV counseling and testing (HCT) programs may improve post-HIV testing linkage to care and treatment. As evaluations of these technologies in program settings continue, estimates of the costs of POC CD4 tests to the service provider will be needed and estimates have begun to be reported. Without a consistent and transparent methodology, estimates of the cost per CD4 test using POC technologies are likely to be difficult to compare and may lead to erroneous conclusions about costs and cost-effectiveness. This paper provides a step-by-step approach for estimating the cost per CD4 test from a provider’s perspective. As an example, the approach is applied to one specific POC technology, the PimaTM Analyzer. The costing approach is illustrated with data from a mobile HCT program in Gauteng Province of South Africa. For this program, the cost per test in 2010 was estimated at $23.76 (material costs = $8.70; labor cost per test=$7.33; and equipment, insurance, and daily quality control=$7.72). Labor and equipment costs can vary widely depending on how the program operates and the number of CD4 tests completed over time. Additional costs not included in the above analysis, for on-going training, supervision, and quality control, are likely to increase further the cost per test. The main contribution of this paper is to outline a methodology for estimating the costs of incorporating POC CD4 testing technologies into an HCT program. The details of the program setting matter significantly for the cost estimate, so that such details should be clearly documented to improve the consistency, transparency, and comparability of cost estimates.