Cost analysis of two community-based HIV testing service modalities led by a Non-Governmental Organization in Cape Town, South Africa

Meehan, Sue-Ann ; Beyers, Nulda ; Burger, Ronelle (2017-12-02)

CITATION: Meehan, Sue-A., Beyers, N. & Burger, R. 2017. Cost analysis of two community-based HIV testing service modalities led by a Non-Governmental Organization in Cape Town, South Africa. BMC Health Services Research, 17:801, doi:10.1186/s12913-017-2760-8.

The original publication is available at

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Background: In South Africa, the financing and sustainability of HIV services is a priority. Community-based HIV testing services (CB-HTS) play a vital role in diagnosis and linkage to HIV care for those least likely to utilise government health services. With insufficient estimates of the costs associated with CB-HTS provided by NGOs in South Africa, this cost analysis explored the cost to implement and provide services at two NGO-led CB-HTS modalities and calculated the costs associated with realizing key HIV outputs for each CB-HTS modality. Methods: The study took place in a peri-urban area where CB-HTS were provided from a stand-alone centre and mobile service. Using a service provider (NGO) perspective, all inputs were allocated by HTS modality with shared costs apportioned according to client volume or personnel time. We calculated the total cost of each HTS modality and the cost categories (personnel, capital and recurring goods/services) across each HTS modality. Costs were divided into seven pre-determined project components, used to examine cost drivers. HIV outputs were analysed for each HTS modality and the mean cost for each HIV output was calculated per HTS modality. Results: The annual cost of the stand-alone and mobile modalities was $96,616 and $77,764 respectively, with personnel costs accounting for 54% of the total costs at the stand-alone. For project components, overheads and service provision made up the majority of the costs. The mean cost per person tested at stand-alone ($51) was higher than at the mobile ($25). Linkage to care cost at the stand-alone ($1039) was lower than the mobile ($2102). Conclusions: This study provides insight into the cost of an NGO led CB-HTS project providing HIV testing and linkage to care through two CB-HIV testing modalities. The study highlights; (1) the importance of including all applicable costs (including overheads) to ensure an accurate cost estimate that is representative of the full service implementation cost, (2) the direct link between test uptake and mean cost per person tested, and (3) the need for effective linkage to care strategies to increase linkage and thereby reduce the mean cost per person linked to HIV care.

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