Policy-makers need to stop taking a ‘silo’ approach to budgeting, where one sector’s gain is another sector’s loss. An investment such as paying for girls’ schooling can fall through the gaps if we don’t look beyond HIV and take into account broader benefits to education and health.

This is the key message of a new policy brief, published by the RethinkHIV research consortium (of which the Blavatnik School of Government is a lead member). The brief provides evidence-backed advice to policymakers on how to get greater impact from HIV financing.

The policy brief explains that, conventionally, investment decisions for HIV are informed by cost-effectiveness analyses that only compare the costs of programmes with their direct HIV outcomes, such as infections averted or ‘life years’ saved. Budgeting arrangements rarely explicitly factor in the costs and benefits of resource allocation decisions to other sectors. However, an alternative and more comprehensive approach that is very rarely used in this field is cost–benefit analysis, which examines whether the overall social benefits generated by an intervention outweigh its costs.

RethinkHIV is a new research initiative, funded by the Rush Foundation, that aims to conduct and evaluate cutting-edge research to inform long-term planning and resource-allocation for the treatment and management of HIV/AIDS.