Hepatitis B Prevention: We Have the Vaccines, But Not the Implementation


Despite effective vaccines and other prevention and treatment modalities, hepatitis B remains a global health challenge. “It’s not for the lack of available tools,” says professor and hepatologist H. Nina Kim, MD, MSc.

A time-honored tradition, the case-based liver workshop is a preconference session that takes place before CROI officially begins.

H. Nina Kim, MD, MSc, a professor and hepatologist with the University of Washington, was one of the presenters, and gave a talk entitled “HBV Prevention: Newer Vaccines and the Boundaries of HBV Protection.”

Kim’s talk focused on 2 hepatitis B vaccines, the CpG-adjuvanted hepatitis B vaccine and the tri-antigenic hepatitis B vaccine. Both vaccines are licensed in multiple countries, but are still relatively new hepatitis B prevention modalities.

The fact that the first protein-based hepatitis B vaccine has been licensed for 40 years may lead some people to erroneously disregard the severity and urgency of hepatitis B. “Hepatitis B still remains a major public health issue today,” said Kim. “People living with HIV are particularly vulnerable.”

“The fact that we have a number of available vaccines doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody is getting them the way that they’re supposed to,” Kim said. Social determinants of health, such as race, socioeconomic status, or geographic location, often inhibit patients most at risk of contracting hepatitis B from obtaining the treatment and protection they need. “It’s not for the lack of available tools,” Kim emphasized.

Kim said she hopes the future of HBV vaccines will include more real-world studies. “You want to look at how these drugs or vaccines perform in settings where you’re not going to see that uniformity in patient characteristics.”

In addition to raising public awareness, Kim wants to see better hepatitis B representation at CROI as well. She said there are relatively few posters and abstracts on hepatitis B at CROI 2023, but “I’m hoping that in years to come in CROI that that will change, that there’s just a lot more people excited about looking at hepatitis B prevention and treatments.”

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