Background: Young males aged 15-24 in the U.S. have the highest number of chlamydia cases across all male age groups and five times the number of syphilis cases compared to their female counterparts. In response, Project Connect Baltimore trained youth-serving professionals (YSPs) in community settings to support young men in seeking sexual and reproductive health care. Project Connect created an online and paper-based guide to connect young men to care in highly-affected neighborhoods of Baltimore. As a response to more funders requiring economic analyses of similar programs, we developed a detailed methodology for understanding the program costs associated with Project Connect, and the potential treatment costs saved due to averted sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Methods: We collected program cost data for Project Connect for 27 months using expenditure records and did not include research or evaluation-related costs. We drew upon existing literature to estimate annual treatment costs for positive cases of chlamydia, syphilis, HIV and gonorrhea. We used surveillance data to estimate the number of STI cases in Baltimore over the most recent year and estimated three scenarios: a 1%, 5%, and 10% reduction in annual cases. We multiplied the treatment costs to estimate dollars saved associated with each of these scenarios.
Results: The program cost for Project Connect was $368,376 over its first 27 months. Staff time accounted for 82% of program costs. The treatment costs saved associated with a 1% reduction in annual number of STI cases was $615,032, $3,075,158 with 5%, and $6,150,316 with 10%.
Conclusions: In all scenarios, STI treatment costs averted over one year of the program were greater than the program costs for 27 months. The results of this analysis suggest Project Connect is a worthwhile investment of public health funds.