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Economic Evaluations of STI Control Programs Take Narrow Focus

March 16, 2021

Studies evaluating costs and outcomes of interventions to control sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in young people are mostly of low quality with limited focus, according to a systematic review published online ahead of print in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.  

UK researchers included 31 studies in the review. Each provided an economic evaluation of a program that aimed to control STIs and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in at-risk people younger than age 30. 

The majority of studies in the review took a provider perspective and focused on the cost-effectiveness and cost-utility of screening interventions for chlamydia, researchers reported. Major outcomes averted and quality-adjusted life years were the most common outcome measures.

“None of the economic evaluations encompassed aspects of equity or context, which are highly relevant to sexual health decision-makers,” researchers noted. 

Studies did assess direct medical costs, such as program costs. Furthermore, nearly a third gauged indirect costs, such as productivity losses, the study showed.  

“The review demonstrated heterogeneity in approaches to evaluate costs and outcomes for STI/HIV control programs,” researchers wrote. “The low quality of available studies along with the limited focus, that is, almost all studies relate to chlamydia, highlight the need for high-quality economic evaluations to inform the commissioning of sexual health services.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Bloch SCM, Jackson LJ, Frew E, Ross JDC. Assessing the costs and outcomes of control programmes for sexually transmitted infections: a systematic review of economic evaluations [published online ahead of print, 2021 Mar 2]. Sex Transm Infect. 2021;sextrans-2020-054873. doi:10.1136/sextrans-2020-054873

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