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Outcomes and costs of publicly funded patient navigation interventions to enhance HIV care continuum outcomes in the United States: A before-and-after study.



In the United States, patients with HIV face significant barriers to linkage to and retention in care which impede the necessary steps toward achieving the desired clinical outcome of viral suppression. Individual-level interventions, such as patient navigation, are evidence based, effective strategies for improving care engagement. In addition, use of surveillance and clinical data to identify patients who are not fully engaged in care may improve the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these programs.

Methods and findings

We employed a pre-post design to estimate the outcomes and costs, from the program perspective, of 5 state-level demonstration programs funded under the Health Resources and Services Administration's Special Projects of National Significance Program (HRSA/SPNS) Systems Linkages Initiative that employed existing surveillance and/or clinical data to identify individuals who had never entered HIV care, had fallen out of care, or were at risk of falling out of care and navigation strategies to engage patients in HIV care. Outcomes and costs were measured relative to standard of care during the first year of implementation of the interventions (2013 to 2014). We followed patients to estimate the number and proportion of additional patients linked, reengaged, retained, and virally suppressed by 12 months after enrollment in the interventions. We employed inverse probability weighting to adjust for differences in patient characteristics across programs, missing data, and loss to follow-up. We estimated the additional costs expended during the first year of each intervention and the cost per outcome of each intervention as the additional cost per HIV additional care continuum target achieved (cost per patient linked, reengaged, retained, and virally suppressed) 12 months after enrollment in each intervention. In this study, 3,443 patients were enrolled in Louisiana (LA), Massachusetts (MA), North Carolina (NC), Virginia (VA), and Wisconsin (WI) (147, 151, 2,491, 321, and 333, respectively). Patients were a mean of 40 years old, 75% male, and African American (69%) or Caucasian (22%). At baseline, 24% were newly diagnosed, 2% had never been in HIV care, 45% had fallen out of care, and 29% were at risk of falling out of care. All 5 interventions were associated with increases in the number and proportion of patients with viral suppression [percent increase: LA = 90.9%, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 88.4 to 93.4; MA = 78.1%, 95% CI = 72.4 to 83.8; NC = 47.5%, 95% CI = 45.2 to 49.8; VA = 54.6, 95% CI = 49.4 to 59.9; WI = 58.4, 95% CI = 53.4 to 63.4]. Overall, interventions cost an additional $4,415 (range = $3,746 to $5,619), $2,009 (range = $1,516 to $2,274), $920 (range = $627 to $941), $2,212 (range = $1,789 to $2,683), and $3,700 ($2,734 to $4,101), respectively per additional patient virally suppressed. The results of this study are limited in that we did not have contemporaneous controls for each intervention; thus, we are only able to assess patients against themselves at baseline and not against standard of care during the same time period.


Patient navigation programs were associated with improvements in engagement of patients in HIV care and viral suppression. Cost per outcome was minimized in states that utilized surveillance data to identify individuals who were out of care and/or those that were able to identify a larger number of patients in need of improvement at baseline. These results have the potential to inform the targeting and design of future navigation-type interventions.

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