• Short-term studies indicate that hepatitis B vaccines are safe and satisfactorily immunogenic in hemophiliacs. The duration of immunity in these immunocompromised patients, however, is not known. To determine this, we studied 78 hemophiliacs prospectively 2, 3, and 4 years after the initial vaccination with a plasma-derived vaccine given as three monthly injections followed by a fourth booster injection at month 14. The duration of immunity clearly depended on whether the patients were infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In HIV seronegative hemophiliacs (n = 67), there was a progressive decline in titers of antibody to the hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs), but antibody was still detectable 4 years later in all of them. From the curves of decline of antibody titers, it appears that there is no need to revaccinate patients for at least 5 to 6 years. The HIV seropositive hemophiliacs (n=11) not only started from much lower anti-HBs titers, but 5 of 11 lost anti-HBs. None of the 45 patients treated with concentrates during the postvaccination period developed serologic signs of hepatitis B, even though 6 of them had come into contact with live or inactivated hepatitis B virus as shown by the occurrence of spontaneous anamnestic antibody responses. This vaccine and schedule of vaccination afford a prolonged duration of immunity in HIV seronegative hemophiliacs, but HIV seropositive hemophiliacs have a risk of losing immunity early.
(Arch Intern Med. 1989;149:1333-1337)