The cost-effectiveness of needle-exchange and other HIV prevention programs will be studied at Stanford and several other research centers, funded by a 5-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Margaret Brandeau and Douglas Owens, the Stanford researchers involved, previously modeled aspects of the epidemic's spread to address policy issues related to HIV prevention programs for the state of California. Brandeau is an associate professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, while Owens is a research associate at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System and an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at Stanford.
Previously, the two found that offering HIV screening tests to all women of childbearing age would lower overall medical costs. To reach this conclusion, they began by refining a turn-of-the century mathematical model of how malaria spreads through a population, refining it to capture characteristics of HIV disease, its treatment, and the behaviors that lead to its spread. In another study, they found that the risk to doctors and nurses from treating HIV-infected patients was comparable in magnitude to the risk they face from treating people with hepatitis B infection.
"The bottom line" of the new research project, Brandeau said, "is to figure out how society can gain the most from its HIV prevention dollars."
Other principal researchers in the project are professors Edward Kaplan and David Paltiel of Yale and James Kahn of the University of California-San Francisco. They will work cooperatively under the direction of the Societal Institute of the Mathematical Sciences in New Haven, Conn. The grant totals $3.4 million; Stanford's award will be about $880,000.
More information about the prevention program can be found on the World Wide Web at http://soe.stanford.edu/ieem/faculty/brandeua/abstract.html.