Cost-effectiveness of CRAG-LFA screening for cryptococcal meningitis among people living with HIV in Uganda

Post Date: 
BMC Infectious Diseases

Background: Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) constitutes a significant source of mortality in resource-limited regions. Cryptococcal antigen (CRAG) can be detected in the blood before onset of meningitis. We sought to determine the cost-effectiveness of implementing CRAG screening using the recently developed CRAG lateral flow assay in Uganda compared to current practice without screening.

Methods: A decision-analytic model was constructed to compare two strategies for cryptococcal prevention among people living with HIV with CD4 < 100 in Uganda: No cryptococcal screening vs. CRAG screening with WHO-recommended preemptive treatment for CRAG-positive patients. The model was constructed to reflect primary HIV clinics in Uganda, with a cohort of HIV-infected patients with CD4 < 100 cells/uL. Primary outcomes were expected costs, DALYs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). We evaluated varying levels of programmatic implementation in secondary analysis.

Results: CRAG screening was considered highly cost-effective and was associated with an ICER of $6.14 per DALY averted compared to no screening (95% uncertainty range: $-20.32 to $36.47). Overall, implementation of CRAG screening was projected to cost $1.52 more per person, and was projected to result in a 40% relative reduction in cryptococcal-associated mortality. In probabilistic sensitivity analysis, CRAG screening was cost-effective in 100% of scenarios and cost saving (ie cheaper and more effective than no screening) in 30% of scenarios. Secondary analysis projected a total cost of $651,454 for 100% implementation of screening nationally, while averting 1228 deaths compared to no screening.

Conclusion: Screening for PLWH with low CD4 represents excellent value for money with the potential to prevent cryptococcal morbidity and mortality in Uganda.

Ramachandran A, Manabe Y, Rajasingham R, Shah M. Cost-effectiveness of CRAG-LFA screening for cryptococcal meningitis among people living with HIV in Uganda. BMC Infect Dis. 2017 Mar 23;17(1):225. doi: 10.1186/s12879-017-2325-9. PMID: 28335769; PMCID: PMC5364591.
  • Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda.
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN