Hepatitis C vaccine could dramatically reduce transmission in people who inject drugs

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Hepatitis C vaccine could dramatically reduce transmission in people who inject drugs

Among the most serious consequences of the opioid epidemic is the spread of hepatitis C among injecting drug users.

Among the most serious consequences of the opioid epidemic is the spread of hepatitis C among injecting drug users.

A major new study shows that if a hepatitis C vaccine were successfully developed, it would dramatically reduce transmission of hepatitis C among drug users—even though it’s unlikely such a vaccine would provide complete immunity.

The study, which employed mathematical modeling, is published in Science Translational Medicine.

Four of the study’s authors are members of the Program for Experimental and Theoretical Modeling in the division of hepatology of Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. One of the Loyola researchers, Harel Dahari, Ph.D., is a co-senior author of the study, along with Marian Major, Ph.D., of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Dahari is an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Vaccines are currently available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, but a vaccine for hepatitis C is still under investigation. A clinical trial is testing an experimental hepatitis C vaccine on injecting drug users. Unlike many other vaccines, the hepatitis C vaccine is not expected to provide complete immunity, known as sterilizing immunity. A vaccinated person exposed to HCV could still be infected with the virus, although the amount of virus in the bloodstream would be significantly reduced.

The new study calculated how effective a vaccine that provided incomplete immunity would be in preventing transmission among injecting drug users. Researchers developed a mathematical model to determine transmission probabilities in drug users who share needles and syringes. They simulated the sharing of two types of common syringes used by drug users. Using previously published data from people infected or reinfected with hepatitis C virus, researchers then estimated the transmission risks between injecting drug users.

Read on: Hepatitis C vaccine could dramatically reduce transmission in people who inject drugs

The health and medical information on our website is not intended to take the place of advice or treatment from health care professionals. It is also not intended to substitute for the users’ relationships with their own health care/pharmaceutical providers.

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