Optimal strategies for mitigating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Philippines

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The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) impairs a person's immune system against many infections and some types of cancer, leading to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is characterized by severe illnesses. The number of HIV infections in the Philippines has increased, more than doubled, within the last decade. This alarming HIV crisis in the country requires urgent actions. In this study, a mathematical model is developed to describe the disease transmission in the Philippines. Disease‐free and endemic equilibria are obtained, stability analysis is performed, and the basic reproduction number is computed. Sensitivity analyses and subset selection are performed to identify influential parameters and to determine an identifiable parameter set given measurements, respectively. Available data on the number of asymptomatic aware infectious, those who are in the AIDS stage, and those under treatment are utilized to estimate key epidemiological parameters such as transmission, treatment, and screening rates. Uncertainty of these parameter estimates is quantified through bootstrapping method. Furthermore, intervention strategies are investigated in the framework of optimal control theory. Control measures include precaution, HIV screening, antiretroviral treatment, and pre‐exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment. These various control efforts are compared with regard to cost efficiency and effectiveness in reducing the number of infected individuals. Given limited available control measures, the PrEP‐only scenario is shown to be the most cost‐effective, followed by other scenarios that combine PrEP with other controls.