Patients with hepatitis C should consider getting vaccinated again against hepatitis B, because their immune response to the first vaccine may be inadequate, a new study suggests.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine urge those who have hepatitis C to get tested for immune protection against hepatitis B.
If it is not present, they should receive the vaccine again after treating hepatitis C. Previous research showed that individuals with hepatitis C infection had a lower response to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine. “This study has broad public health implications in individuals infected with hepatitis,” Dr. José Debes, associate professor in the schools of medicine and public health, said in a university news release.
“It is known that the hepatitis B vaccine is not as effective in those with hepatitis C.
What was not known until now is that after treating hepatitis C, the hepatitis B vaccine appears to be more effective in this population. “This is important as many of these individuals are still at risk for hepatitis B infection.”
A blood-borne virus causes hepatitis C, which leads to inflammation of the liver. Around 58 million people worldwide have the condition, with 1.5 million new infections each year.
There is no effective vaccine for hepatitis C. Hepatitis B is a liver infection that can be prevented with the HBV vaccine.
To study the impact of the hepatitis B vaccine on these hepatitis C patients, the researchers worked with 34 patients who previously did not respond to the HBV vaccine.
They were tested for hepatitis B antibodies.
The study found that after treatment for their hepatitis C, this group had an improved response to hepatitis B revaccination.
Having both hepatitis B and C together increases the risk of serious problems such as liver cirrhosis or cancer. Having both infections is common and risky in certain areas.
More research is needed in a larger group to evaluate the best timing for revaccination and to further understand the immunological pathways involved, the authors said.
The study findings were recently published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. More information The World Health Organization has more information about hepatitis.
SOURCE: University of Minnesota School of Medicine, news release, September 7, 2023.