Researchers suggest that individuals with hepatitis C virus (HCV) who do not respond to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine should consider revaccination after treatment for and elimination of HCV, according to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

[Editor’s note: Study results were also presented at the AASLD Liver Meeting in November.] 

Although previous research has shown that people with chronic HCV do not respond as efficiently to HBV vaccination as the general public, researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School sought to examine whether revaccination after HCV treatment might improve that response, according to a university news release.

It’s estimated that 2.4 million Americans are living with chronic HCV (about 1% of the adult population), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What’s more, nearly 15,000 people died of HCV in 2020, and acute HCV cases quadrupled from 2009 to 2019.

For the study, researchers recruited 34 people who no longer had HCV and previously had not responded to HBV vaccination. Study results showed that after treatment of HCV, revaccination against HBV resulted in an improved response. In fact, about 70% of people who previously had not responded to the HBV vaccine developed a response after HCV treatment and elimination.

“This study has broad implications for public health in hepatitis-infected individuals,” coauthor Jose Debes, MD, PhD, of the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, said in the 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 seems to be more effective in this population. This is important as many of these individuals are still at risk for hepatitis B infection.”

Prior research has shown that HBV vaccine awareness among primary care physicians is generally low and that educating clinicians who treat HCV about the vaccine could increase elimination rates and prevent new HBV cases.

To learn more, click #Hepatitis C or #HBV vaccine. There, you’ll find headlines such as “People on Medicaid Are Missing Out on Hepatitis C Treatment,” “Nurse Faces 10 Years in Prison for Transmitting Hep C to 12 Patients” and “Are vaccines safe?