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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: HIV Treatment Costs High at Inpatient Care Facilities in South Africa

Inpatient medical facilities in South Africa shoulder a substantial burden from treating HIV-positive patients who are not receiving antiretroviral therapy, even in an era when such treatments are available on a large scale, according to a new study co-authored by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.

The study, in the journal PLOS ONE, found that HIV-positive patients accounted for at least 55 percent of all resources utilized (i.e. bed days) at a regional hospital in Johannesburg. Researchers analyzed a random sample of more than 1,000 inpatient admissions in 2010.

Only 36 percent of the HIV-positive patients were reported to be on antiretroviral therapy (ART) at the time of admission, despite the majority being eligible for ART based on their blood counts.

The HIV-positive patients had longer average hospitalizations compared to other patients.

The findings suggest that the burden of HIV on South African hospitals “may not have changed substantially” since ART became widely available in 2004, the study says.

“The majority of the burden of HIV inpatient care on hospitals is related to patients not on ART, (and) this burden is large, accounting for more than half of all inpatient resources,” the authors said. Their analysis indicated that while the prevalence of HIV in adults, ages 15–49, was 17.8 percent in 2012 — less than one-fifth of the total population — those patients consumed more than 50 percent of the available resources in inpatient facilities.

To read more about the study, go to: