This page provides access to all research articles developed by the HIV Modelling Consortium, in addition to meeting reports and relevant reading.
Evaluating strategies to improve HIV care outcomes in Kenya: a modelling studyAbstract:10.1016/S2352-3018(16)30120-5
BACKGROUND: With expanded access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV mortality has decreased, yet life-years are still lost to AIDS. Strengthening of treatment programmes is a priority. We examined the state of an HIV care programme in Kenya and assessed interventions to improve the impact of ART programmes on population health.
METHODS: We created an individual-based mathematical model to describe the HIV epidemic and the experiences of care among adults infected with HIV in Kenya. We calibrated the model to a longitudinal dataset from the Academic Model Providing Access To Healthcare (known as AMPATH) programme describing the routes into care, losses from care, and clinical outcomes. We simulated the cost and effect of interventions at different stages of HIV care, including improvements to diagnosis, linkage to care, retention and adherence of ART, immediate ART eligibility, and a universal test-and-treat strategy.
FINDINGS: We estimate that, of people dying from AIDS between 2010 and 2030, most will have initiated treatment (61%), but many will never have been diagnosed (25%) or will have been diagnosed but never started ART (14%). Many interventions targeting a single stage of the health-care cascade were likely to be cost-effective, but any individual intervention averted only a small percentage of deaths because the effect is attenuated by other weaknesses in care. However, a combination of five interventions (including improved linkage, point-of-care CD4 testing, voluntary counselling and testing with point-of-care CD4, and outreach to improve retention in pre-ART care and on-ART) would have a much larger impact, averting 1·10 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) and 25% of expected new infections and would probably be cost-effective (US$571 per DALY averted). This strategy would improve health more efficiently than a universal test-and-treat intervention if there were no accompanying improvements to care ($1760 per DALY averted).
INTERPRETATION: When resources are limited, combinations of interventions to improve care should be prioritised over high-cost strategies such as universal test-and-treat strategy, especially if this is not accompanied by improvements to the care cascade. International guidance on ART should reflect alternative routes to programme strengthening and encourage country programmes to evaluate the costs and population-health impact in addition to the clinical benefits of immediate initiation.
FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United States Agency for International Development, National Institutes of Health.
The Incidence Patterns Model to Estimate the Distribution of New HIV Infections in Sub-Saharan Africa: Development and Validation of a Mathematical Model.Abstract:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002121
BACKGROUND: Programmatic planning in HIV requires estimates of the distribution of new HIV infections according to identifiable characteristics of individuals. In sub-Saharan Africa, robust routine data sources and historical epidemiological observations are available to inform and validate such estimates.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: We developed a predictive model, the Incidence Patterns Model (IPM), representing populations according to factors that have been demonstrated to be strongly associated with HIV acquisition risk: gender, marital/sexual activity status, geographic location, "key populations" based on risk behaviours (sex work, injecting drug use, and male-to-male sex), HIV and ART status within married or cohabiting unions, and circumcision status. The IPM estimates the distribution of new infections acquired by group based on these factors within a Bayesian framework accounting for regional prior information on demographic and epidemiological characteristics from trials or observational studies. We validated and trained the model against direct observations of HIV incidence by group in seven rounds of cohort data from four studies ("sites") conducted in Manicaland, Zimbabwe; Rakai, Uganda; Karonga, Malawi; and Kisesa, Tanzania. The IPM performed well, with the projections' credible intervals for the proportion of new infections per group overlapping the data's confidence intervals for all groups in all rounds of data. In terms of geographical distribution, the projections' credible intervals overlapped the confidence intervals for four out of seven rounds, which were used as proxies for administrative divisions in a country. We assessed model performance after internal training (within one site) and external training (between sites) by comparing mean posterior log-likelihoods and used the best model to estimate the distribution of HIV incidence in six countries (Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, and Zambia) in the region. We subsequently inferred the potential contribution of each group to transmission using a simple model that builds on the results from the IPM and makes further assumptions about sexual mixing patterns and transmission rates. In all countries except Swaziland, individuals in unions were the single group contributing to the largest proportion of new infections acquired (39%-77%), followed by never married women and men. Female sex workers accounted for a large proportion of new infections (5%-16%) compared to their population size. Individuals in unions were also the single largest contributor to the proportion of infections transmitted (35%-62%), followed by key populations and previously married men and women. Swaziland exhibited different incidence patterns, with never married men and women accounting for over 65% of new infections acquired and also contributing to a large proportion of infections transmitted (up to 56%). Between- and within-country variations indicated different incidence patterns in specific settings.
CONCLUSIONS: It is possible to reliably predict the distribution of new HIV infections acquired using data routinely available in many countries in the sub-Saharan African region with a single relatively simple mathematical model. This tool would complement more specific analyses to guide resource allocation, data collection, and programme planning.
Optimum resource allocation to reduce HIV incidence across sub-Saharan Africa: a mathematical modelling study.Abstract:10.1016/S2352-3018(16)30051-0
BACKGROUND: Advances in HIV prevention methods offer promise to accelerate declines in incidence, but how these methods can be deployed to have the best effect on the heterogeneous landscape and drivers of the pandemic remains unclear. We postulated that use of epidemic heterogeneity to inform the allocation of resources for combination HIV prevention could enhance the impact of HIV funding across sub-Saharan Africa.
METHODS: We developed a compartmental mathematical model of HIV transmission and disease progression by risk group to subnational resolution in 18 countries, capturing 80% of the adult HIV burden in sub-Saharan Africa. Adults aged 15-49 years were grouped by risk of HIV acquisition and transmission, and those older than 50 years were assumed to have negligible risk. For each top-level administrative division, we calibrated the model to historical data for HIV prevalence, sexual behaviours, treatment scale-up, and demographics. We then evaluated four strategies for allocation of prevention funding over a 15 year period from 2016 to 2030, which exploited epidemic differences between subnational regions to varying degrees.
FINDINGS: For a $US20 billion representative expenditure over the 15 year period, scale-up of prevention along present funding channels could avert 5·3 million infections relative to no scale-up. Prioritisation of key populations could avert 3·7 million more infections than present funding channels, and additional prioritisation by within-country geography could avert 400 000 more infections. Removal of national constraints could avert a further 600 000 infections. Risk prioritisation has greater marginal impact than geographical prioritisation across multiple expenditure levels. However, targeting by both risk and geography is best for total impact and could achieve gains of up to three times more than present channels. A shift from the present pattern to the optimum pattern would rebalance resources towards more cost-effective interventions and emerging epidemics.
INTERPRETATION: If domestic and international funders were to align strategically to build an aggregate funding pattern that is guided by the epidemiology of HIV, and particularly by the emerging understanding of local dynamics and epidemic drivers, more cost-effective and impactful HIV prevention investments could be achieved across sub-Saharan Africa.
FUNDING: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Distinguishing sources of HIV transmission from the distribution of newly acquired HIV infections: why is it important for HIV prevention planning?Abstract:10.1136/sextrans-2013-051250
OBJECTIVE: The term 'source of HIV infections' has been referred to as the source of HIV transmission. It has also been interpreted as the distribution of newly acquired HIV infections across subgroups. We illustrate the importance of distinguishing the two interpretations for HIV prevention planning.
METHODS: We used a dynamical model of heterosexual HIV transmission to simulate three HIV epidemics, and estimated the sources of HIV transmission (cumulative population attributable fraction) and the single-year distribution of new HIV infections. We focused an intervention guided by the largest transmission source versus the largest single-year distribution of new HIV infections, and compared the fraction of discounted HIV infections averted over 30 years.
RESULTS: The single-year distribution of newly acquired HIV infections underestimated the source of HIV transmission in the long term, when the source was unprotected sex in high-risk groups. Under equivalent and finite resources, an intervention strategy directed by the long-term transmission source was shown to achieve a greater impact than a distribution-directed strategy, particularly in the long term.
CONCLUSIONS: Impact of HIV prevention strategies may vary depending on whether they are directed by the long-term transmission source or by the distribution of new HIV infections. Caution is required when interpreting the 'source of HIV infections' to avoid misusing the distribution of new HIV infections in HIV prevention planning.
Towards an improved investment approach for an effective response to HIV/AIDS.Abstract:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60702-2
Substantial changes are needed to achieve a more targeted and strategic approach to investment in the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that will yield long-term dividends. Until now, advocacy for resources has been done on the basis of a commodity approach that encouraged scaling up of numerous strategies in parallel, irrespective of their relative effects. We propose a strategic investment framework that is intended to support better management of national and international HIV/AIDS responses than exists with the present system. Our framework incorporates major efficiency gains through community mobilisation, synergies between programme elements, and benefits of the extension of antiretroviral therapy for prevention of HIV transmission. It proposes three categories of investment, consisting of six basic programmatic activities, interventions that create an enabling environment to achieve maximum effectiveness, and programmatic efforts in other health and development sectors related to HIV/AIDS. The yearly cost of achievement of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support by 2015 is estimated at no less than US$22 billion. Implementation of the new investment framework would avert 12·2 million new HIV infections and 7·4 million deaths from AIDS between 2011 and 2020 compared with continuation of present approaches, and result in 29·4 million life-years gained. The framework is cost effective at $1060 per life-year gained, and the additional investment proposed would be largely offset from savings in treatment costs alone.
What drives the US and Peruvian HIV epidemics in men who have sex with men (MSM)?Abstract:10.1371/journal.pone.0050522
In this work, we estimate the proportions of transmissions occurring in main vs. casual partnerships, and by the sexual role, infection stage, and testing and treatment history of the infected partner, for men who have sex with men (MSM) in the US and Peru. We use dynamic, stochastic models based in exponential random graph models (ERGMs), obtaining inputs from multiple large-scale MSM surveys. Parallel main partnership and casual sexual networks are simulated. Each man is characterized by age, race, circumcision status, sexual role behavior, and propensity for unprotected anal intercourse (UAI); his history is modeled from entry into the adult population, with potential transitions including HIV infection, detection, treatment, AIDS diagnosis, and death. We implemented two model variants differing in assumptions about acute infectiousness, and assessed sensitivity to other key inputs. Our two models suggested that only 4-5% (Model 1) or 22-29% (Model 2) of HIV transmission results from contacts with acute-stage partners; the plurality (80-81% and 49%, respectively) stem from chronic-stage partners and the remainder (14-16% and 27-35%, respectively) from AIDS-stage partners. Similar proportions of infections stem from partners whose infection is undiagnosed (24-31%), diagnosed but untreated (36-46%), and currently being treated (30-36%). Roughly one-third of infections (32-39%) occur within main partnerships. Results by country were qualitatively similar, despite key behavioral differences; one exception was that transmission from the receptive to insertive partner appears more important in Peru (34%) than the US (21%). The broad balance in transmission contexts suggests that education about risk, careful assessment, pre-exposure prophylaxis, more frequent testing, earlier treatment, and risk-reduction, disclosure, and adherence counseling may all contribute substantially to reducing the HIV incidence among MSM in the US and Peru.
Summary Report from HIV MC Symposium: A Dialogue Between Program Planners and Model Makers
Allocative Efficiency Tools Workshop Meeting Report
Meeting Report from Consultation Meeting on Implementation Issues for Monitoring people on ART in sub-Saharan Africa