HIV-Positive Men Need a Booster Dose of the Hep A Vaccine

Published: September 14, 2010

It took an extra “booster-dose” of the hepatitis A virus (HAV) vaccine for HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) to have an equivalent response to the vaccine as HIV-negative men. This finding was reported September 12 at the 50th Annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in Boston.

HIV-positive MSM are about three times as likely to become infected with HAV than HIV-negative MSM. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recommends that all HIV-positive MSM receive the HAV vaccine. Numerous studies have found, however, that vaccines generally don’t work as well in people with HIV, particularly those with low CD4 counts.

To determine whether an extra booster dose of the vaccine might help improve the immune response of HIV-positive MSM to the HAV vaccine, Yu-Tzu Tseng, MD, from the Taipei City Hospital in Taiwan and his colleagues offered the HAV vaccine to 476 MSM. All of the 187 HIV-negative men received two doses of the vaccine—the first at the beginning of the study and the second six months later—as did 135 of the HIV-positive men. This is the standard dosing schedule for the HAV vaccine. An additional 154 HIV-positive men received the standard doses plus an extra dose one month after the first, for a total of three doses.

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