A cost effectiveness analysis of repeat screening for syphilis in pregnancy as an alternative screening strategy in the UK

Syphilis is a treatable sexually transmitted infection (STI) which can be passed from mother to foetus during pregnancy resulting in congenital syphilis. Syphilis infection also increases the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as stillbirth and pre-term delivery. Most cases of congenital syphilis and adverse pregnancy outcomes can be avoided if the infection is diagnosed and correctly treated during pregnancy.

In the UK, pregnant women are offered screening for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis at their first antenatal appointment, typically at or before 12 weeks gestation. Despite the very high coverage of these routine screens plus repeat screening in some higher risk women, a handful of congenital syphilis cases still occur each year, either in women who miss screening or in women who become infected with syphilis after their antenatal screen. For this reason, the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) commissioned Aquarius to assess the cost effectiveness of offering a repeat screen to all pregnant women later in pregnancy.

We worked closely with a small group of experts to compare the current strategy – screening in the first trimester only – with an alternative strategy – screening in the first trimester and a repeat screen later in pregnancy.  We developed a decision tree and model inputs which accounted for the sensitivity and specificity of the syphilis assay, the small number of women who do not attend antenatal care until their third trimester (thereby missing the opportunity for repeat screening) and the costs associated with screening, delivery and antenatal care for all women delivering in the UK in one year.

The model revealed that repeat screening would prevent 5.5 cases of congenital syphilis each year but at cost of £1.8 million per case avoided. When a lifetime horizon was considered, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) for the repeat screening strategy was £120,494 per QALY gained – well above the £20k-30k cost per QALY threshold that NICE uses to assess interventions.

The paper concludes that in the UK setting, where prevalence of syphilis is very low, repeat screening for syphilis in pregnancy would not be a cost-effective strategy and alternative strategies should be sought to prevent congenital syphilis.

This is the first published study from outside the US to compare these two screening strategies. The results will be used to inform national screening policy and are relevant countries with similar syphilis prevalence and healthcare costs. 

Huntington S, Weston G, Seedat F, et al Repeat screening for syphilis in pregnancy as an alternative screening strategy in the UK: a cost-effectiveness analysis BMJ Open 2020;10:e038505. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038505

Cost-effectiveness and impact of five different point of care strategies to preserve last line treatment for gonorrhoea

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has developed to every class of antibiotic used for the treatment of gonorrhoea – and in recent years several multi-drug resistant strains of gonorrhoea have been reported in the UK and elsewhere. Once the prevalence of resistance to a first-line treatment reaches 5%, an alternative drug is selected as first-line treatment. In the UK, as with many other countries, ceftriaxone is the current first-line treatment for gonorrhoea. There are few alternative treatments available should ceftriaxone resistance become widespread and therefore steps are being taken to preserve the effectiveness of ceftriaxone by avoiding its use for infections that could be treated using other antibiotics.

Aquarius was commissioned by the Applied Diagnostic Research and Evaluation Unit (ADREU) at St. Georges London to compare the cost and effectiveness of five different strategies to test for antibiotic susceptibility in NG infections. We developed a decision tree model to assess how point-of-care (POC) testing could be used to diagnose gonorrhoea and at the same time test for antibody susceptibility, allowing the use of previously abandoned antibiotics for the majority of patients, thereby sparing ceftriaxone use.

The results of the model showed that all five strategies cost more than the current strategy of not testing for AMR. The paper concludes that AMR POC testing may enable improved antibiotic stewardship but would require investment into the health system.

The article was published in October in Eurosurveillance and is available free online [link].

Harding-Esch EM, Huntington SE, Harvey MJ, Weston G, Broad CE, Adams EJ, et al. Antimicrobial resistance point-of-care testing for gonorrhoea treatment regimens: cost-effectiveness and impact on ceftriaxone use of five hypothetical strategies compared with standard care in England sexual health clinics. Eurosurveillance [Internet]. 2020;25(43). Available from: https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.43.1900402

Cluster-randomised feasibility trial of a chlamydia test and treat (TnT) service in further education colleges

Aquarius were involved in a recent cluster-randomised feasibility trial looking at whether provision of a same day test and treatment (TnT) service for chlamydia in further education colleges could be used to improve uptake of chlamydia testing in sexually active 16-24 year olds. The trial found that despite a high prevalence of chlamydia among sexually active students at the colleges, uptake of the free confidential TnT service was low. At the three colleges, 13% of students were tested when the service was first offered and 10% when it was offered again three months later. Interviews with students revealed that low uptake was associated with not feeling at risk of a sexually transmitted infection, perceptions of stigma, and lack of knowledge about sexually transmitted infections, while all students interviewed were positive about the TnT service itself.

PublicationOakeshott P, Kerry-Barnard S, Fleming C, et al. “Test n Treat” (TnT): a cluster randomised feasibility trial of on-site rapid Chlamydia trachomatis tests and treatment in ethnically diverse, sexually active teenagers attending technical colleges. Clinical Microbiology and Infection. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmi.2018.10.019.

Test n Treat – rapid STI testing and treatment in colleges: study protocol

Sexually active young people attending London further education (FE) colleges have high rates of chlamydia, but screening rates are low. We describe the study protocol for “Test and Treat” (TnT), an NIHR-funded research study. This is a cluster randomised feasibility trial of frequent, rapid, on-site chlamydia testing using the Cepheid GeneXpert system and same-day treatment in six FE colleges. As part of the study we also conducted qualitative and economic assessments to assess the feasibility of conducting a future large-scale trial to investigate if TnT reduces chlamydia rates. The methods for recruitment, participant data collection, sample collection and testing are described, for baseline and follow-up in the control and intervention groups. The statistical analysis plan for TnT has been published separately.

 

PublicationKerry-Barnard S, Fleming C, Reid F, et al. ‘Test n Treat (TnT)’- Rapid testing and same-day, on-site treatment to reduce rates of chlamydia in sexually active further education college students: study protocol for a cluster randomised feasibility trial. Trials. 2018 Jun 5;19(1):311. doi: 10.1186/s13063-018-2674-8.

To request a copy of the published article, please email caroline.dombrowski@aquariusph.com.

Exploring HCV eradication through diagnosis and treatment strategies

The World Health Organization aims to eradicate hepatitis C virus (HCV) by 2030. To achieve this, improved HCV diagnosis and treatment coverage are required. We explored the relationship between diagnosis and treatment in the next 5 years in Italy, France, and the UK to understand how to achieve the most benefit.

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Harvey MJ, Cheng C-Y, Leone E, et al. Exploring HCV eradication through diagnosis and treatment strategies. EASL Monothematic Conference, Striving Towards the Elimination of HCV Infection. 2-3 February 2018, Berlin, Germany.

 

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Rapid testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections improve patient care and yield public health benefits

With collaborators at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, we estimated the impact of a rapid testing and result notification service for patients testing for sexually transmitted infections at the Dean Street Express clinic. We found that a rapid testing service for asymptomatic infections resulted in 8 days’ faster time to result notification for CT and/or NG which enables faster treatment, thus reducing infectious periods and leading to fewer transmissions, unnecessary partner attendances and clinic costs, compared with those attending an existing ‘standard’ sexual health clinic.

PublicationWhitlock GG, Gibbons DC, Longford N, et al. Rapid testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections improve patient care and yield public health benefits
International Journal of STD & AIDS. First Published October 23, 2017
https://doi.org/10.1177/0956462417736431

 

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Point-of-care tests for infectious diseases: Barriers to implementation across three London teaching hospitals

Our paper explores results of the acceptability and implementation issues of point of care tests (POCTs) in paediatric patients in three south London hospitals. Overall, we found that having a test result was thought to improve bed management and cohorting sick patients appropriately, reassure parents about their child’s condition, reduce hospital transmission, and rationalise further tests and treatment. Concerns focused on confidence about the test’s performance – particularly around false negatives not receiving proper management, how to manage discrepant results (i.e. the laboratory assay gave a different answer to the POCT), and training enough staff to run the test at the point of care.

Publication

Bustinduy AL, Jeyaratnam D, Adams EJ, et al. CLAHRC South London; Paediatric Infection Network. Point-of-care tests for infectious diseases: Barriers to implementation across three London teaching hospitals. Acta Paediatrica,  April 2017. DOI: 10.1111/apa.13867

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Modelling the burden of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer in Europe

Bladder cancer is relatively common in the EU. Most cases are non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC), classified into risk groups based on their chance of progression, which determines the frequency and duration of monitoring after treatment. We created a flexible tool to estimate the burden of NMIBC cases in eleven European countries and estimated the number of monitoring cystoscopies by risk group based on national and regional guidelines.

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Vecino-Ortiz AI, Glover RE, Adams EJ. Modelling the burden of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer in Europe. European Association of Urology. 11-15 March 2016. Munich, Germany.

 

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Mapping the diagnostic pathway for breast cancer in England and comparison to Europe

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in England and the second most common cause of cancer death. We mapped the breast cancer diagnostic pathway in England and rest of Europe and estimated the number of women transitioning through each step of the pathway, and the number of symptomatic women. We propose a new metric to discuss breast cancer screening, annual effective screening rate, to allow for comparison of the effectiveness of different breast cancer interventions across Europe.

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Adams EJ, Midha D, Glover R,  et al.
Mapping the diagnostic pathway for breast cancer in England and comparison to Europe ISPOR 18th Annual European Congress. 7-11 November 2015. Milan, Italy.

 

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Providing integrated HIV treatment and care for stable patients in general practice

We implemented a nurse-delivered integrated HIV and primary care service pilot study for stable patients in two local inner city general practices. Initial results from the patients in the study indicate that a novel model of HIV care with a greater emphasis on patient convenience appears to have high levels of patient satisfaction and favourable treatment outcomes; further work will analyse the costs and impact of the service.

presentation_iconAlexander H, Richards P, Brady M, et al. Providing integrated HIV treatment and care for stable patients in general practice. 21st Annual Conference of the British HIV Association. 21 – 24 April 2015, Brighton, UK

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