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Hepatitis Vaccines - Antiviral Treatment

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Inflammatory liver diseases caused by viral infections, known as viral hepatitis, can be avoided by administering hepatitis vaccines.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha

Published At April 16, 2024
Reviewed AtApril 16, 2024

Introduction

Viral hepatitis is a major worldwide health issue. The significant decline in morbidity and mortality resulting from the administration of vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B has played a crucial role in the overall decrease of diseases that can be prevented through vaccination.

What Is Hepatitis?

The inflammation of the liver is referred to as hepatitis, and hepatitis is a broad word for the condition. Inflammation of the liver can be brought on by several different viruses (viral hepatitis), chemicals, drugs, alcohol, certain genetic abnormalities, or an overactive immune system that attacks the liver in error; this condition is known as autoimmune hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis is a long-term disorder that typically results in less obvious symptoms but causes increasing liver damage. Acute hepatitis is characterized by a quick onset of symptoms that are followed by their resolution, whereas acute hepatitis causes symptoms to appear and then disappear suddenly.

How to Prevent Hepatitis?

To prevent infection, hepatitis B and hepatitis A vaccinations should be administered to infants and anyone who has never been immunized. Vaccines for hepatitis C, D, or E are not yet available; once hepatitis is acquired, it is not treatable. The treatment revolves around preventing additional liver damage, reversing existing damage if feasible, and relieving symptoms. Over time, the majority of instances of acute hepatitis may resolve. Certain medications may be used in the treatment of autoimmune hepatitis to help keep the immune system in control and prevent further liver attacks.

What Are the Types of Hepatitis Vaccines?

The selection and timing of vaccines are contingent upon the specific variant of hepatitis.

  • Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a viral infection mostly affecting the liver. The administration of the hepatitis A vaccination can potentially mitigate the occurrence of hepatitis A infection effectively. This immunization is often administered to infants aged 12 to 23 months as part of their standard vaccination schedule. Everyone above the age of 23 months, including adolescents and adults who have not been vaccinated, is recommended to receive this immunization. The vaccination will be administered by a medical professional in two separate doses, with a time interval of six months between each administration.

  • Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is an infection caused by viruses that harm the liver. The hepatitis B (HBV) vaccine is a standard immunization administered as a routine injection, typically providing lifelong immunity. Typically, an individual receives their initial dose shortly after birth and concludes the vaccination program by the age of six months.

It is recommended that individuals below the age of 19 who have not received vaccinations should also be administered the appropriate immunization. Certain adults who have not been vaccinated may also benefit from the vaccination, especially for people who visit areas where hepatitis B is common. A medical professional can administer the hepatitis B vaccination in two, three, or four separate doses.

  • Hepatitis C: Currently, the absence of a vaccination for hepatitis C contributes to the ongoing occurrence of new infections on a global scale annually.

  • Hepatitis D: It is often known as delta hepatitis, is a viral infection caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). The hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination has the potential to effectively mitigate the occurrence of hepatitis D, a viral coinfection that commonly accompanies hepatitis B. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the administration of the vaccination does not confer protection against hepatitis D in individuals who are already afflicted with chronic hepatitis B.

  • Hepatitis E: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any immunization within the United States, except a HEV vaccine.

  • Hepatitis G: No current vaccination for hepatitis G is not available.

What Is the Impact of Disease Burden?

Despite the creation of secure and reliable HBV vaccinations more than three decades ago, HBV is still the leading cause of liver cancer, a major contributor to the development of cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease that requires liver transplantation, and a severe threat to the public's health worldwide. The remaining issues can be divided into three categories:

  1. Newborn vaccination-specific problems.

  2. Public health issues resulting from incomplete vaccination schedules.

  3. Biological problems resulting from insufficient immune system responses to current vaccines.

The very real issue is that thousands of infants are born at home and are unlikely to receive the birth dose of the HBV vaccine, even in those nations that recommend it. This issue has been highlighted while applauding efforts to enhance HBV vaccine distribution to all newborns.

The goal is to use this animal model to produce more effective vaccines that can subsequently be tried on humans because the current anti-HDV vaccines have sadly not triggered a strong enough T-cell response in infected woodchucks to stop the spread of HIV.

The administration of this vaccination is recommended for all children aged 12 to 23 months, as well as for infants aged six to 11 months who are engaging in international travel. The individuals listed below are also susceptible to the disease and should receive vaccination:

  • Children and adolescents up to the age of 18 residing in states or localities where systematic immunization has been implemented due to a high prevalence of disease.

  • Males who participate in sexual intercourse with other males

  • Individuals who engage in the consumption of illicit substances.

  • Individuals afflicted with chronic liver disease, characterized by prolonged duration,

  • Individuals who have received medical treatment, including administering blood clotting medications, namely those diagnosed with hemophilia.

  • Individuals employed in occupations involving the handling of monkeys infected with the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) or those working in research laboratories specifically dedicated to HAV-related studies. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HAV) share similarities in their impact on animals.

  • Individuals who visit nations with a high prevalence of hepatitis A. An authoritative resource to consult is the website dedicated to travelers' health provided by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where users may conveniently search for information specific to their destination country.

  • Individuals who have either adopted or are close to a kid who has been adopted from a country with a high prevalence of hepatitis A.

It is highly recommended for all infants to receive their initial dosage as neonates. Additional individuals that may require it encompass:

  • Individuals under the age of 19 who have not received vaccinations.

  • Individuals who have sexual contact with a partner infected with hepatitis B.

  • Individuals who engage in sexual activity without being involved in a committed long-term relationship characterized by mutual exclusivity between both parties.

  • Individuals undergoing assessment or medical intervention for a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

  • Individuals who engage in sexual activity with individuals of the same gender.

  • Individuals who engage in the practice of needle-sharing for drug injection purposes, as well as those residing near individuals diagnosed with hepatitis B.

  • Individuals whose occupation regularly exposes them to the potential hazard of encountering blood or body fluids contaminated with blood.

  • Individuals diagnosed with end-stage kidney (renal) disease.

  • Individuals residing and employed within establishments catering to individuals with developmental disabilities.

  • Individuals who journey to areas characterized by moderate to high prevalence rates of hepatitis B.

  • Individuals suffering from chronic liver disease.

  • Individuals diagnosed with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections.

Conclusion

Vaccines have helped suppress viral hepatitis in recent decades. The infection is endemic across most of the world. Future challenges include obtaining additional evidence to prove the vaccine's long-lasting immunity to the hepatitis A virus and developing better acute liver failure management techniques. The global number of infected people has increased, likely due to a growing population. Future HBV should focus on developing immunogenic vaccines for patients who respond poorly to present vaccinations. Developing therapeutic vaccinations for millions of chronically infected people is also crucial. Hepatitis D vaccines are also needed to prevent superinfection in people infected with HBV. No vaccine exists to prevent hepatitis C infection, but trials are underway. A safe and effective anti-hepatitis E vaccination is only licensed in China. HEV is a global infection; hence, global vaccinations are needed. Vaccines are crucial to dominating hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E and reducing morbidity and mortality cost-effectively.

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Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha
Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha

Infectious Diseases

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