Kids on HIV Drug Cocktail May Need Revaccination

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) — HIV-infected children who undergo highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) may need to be revaccinated to maintain their immunity against preventable childhood diseases, researchers from Johns Hopkins have found.

HAART is a combination of three or more potent drugs that target HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

A research team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reviewed 38 published studies and found that most children treated with HAART are still susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases but respond well to revaccination.

“Because of the progressive effects of HIV infection on the ability of the immune system to mount an effective response, many infected children have poorer responses to vaccines than do uninfected children,” senior study author Dr. William Moss, an associate professor in the epidemiology department, said in a Bloomberg news release.

“In addition, fewer children infected with HIV achieve protective immunity, and those who do might experience greater and more rapid waning of immunity. These results suggest that children on HAART would benefit from revaccination, but levels of protective immunity might need to be monitored and some children may need additional vaccine doses to maintain protective immunity,” Moss said.

Currently, there are no standard or official recommendations on revaccination of HIV-infected children on highly active antiretroviral therapy.

“Vaccination policies and strategies for children infected with HIV on HAART should be developed in regions of high HIV prevalence to ensure adequate individual and population immunity,” lead author Catherine Sutcliffe, a research associated in the epidemiology department, said in the news release.

“Without such recommendations, as treatment programs scale up and more children receive HAART and live into adolescence and adulthood, a larger proportion of these children could be susceptible to childhood diseases,” she noted.

The review appears in the September issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

More information

The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center has more about children and HIV.