OBJECTIVE: To analyze the costs of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) outpatient treatment for individuals with different CD4 cell counts in the Brazilian public health system, and to compare to costs in other national health systems. METHODS: A retrospective survey was conducted in five public outpatient clinics of the Brazilian national HIV program in the city of São Paulo. Data on healthcare services provided for a period of one year of HIV outpatient treatment were gathered from randomly selected medical records. Prices of inputs used were obtained through market research and public sector databases. Information on costs of HIV outpatient treatment in other national health systems were gathered from the literature. Annual costs of HIV outpatient treatment from each country were converted into 2010 U.S. dollars. RESULTS: Annual cost of HIV outpatient treatment for the Brazilian national public program was US$ 2,572.92 in 2006 in São Paulo, ranging from US$ 1,726.19 for patients with CD4 cell count > 500 to US$ 3,693.28 for patients with 51 < CD4 cell count < 200. Antiretrovirals (ARVs) represented approximately 62.0% of annual HIV outpatient costs. Comparing among different health systems during the same period, HIV outpatient treatment presented higher costs in countries where HIV treatment is provided by the private sector. CONCLUSION: The main cost drivers of HIV outpatient treatment in different health systems were: ARVs, other medications, health professional services, and diagnostic exams. Nevertheless, the magnitude of cost drivers varied among HIV outpatient treatment programs due to health system efficiency. The data presented may be a valuable tool for public policy evaluation of HIV treatment programs worldwide.
HIV; terapia antirretroviral de alta atividade; custos e análise de custos; contagem de linfócito CD4; política de saúde