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antibodies and immunocompetence
Jun 11, 2004

Dear Doctor:

If one is able to mount an immune response to Hep B vaccination as evidenced by detectable titers after the series, does that also mean that one would be able to mount an immune response to HIV or HepC virus? Is the immune response mechanism fundamentally the same in face of a vax versus in face of virus? Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Response from Dr. McGovern

Your question is a complicated one.

First, the hepatitis B vaccine was specifically designed to try to elicit a successful antibody response in as many patients as possible.

Secondly, when patients are newly infected with hepatitis C, it is probably T cell responses which help a patient eliminate hepatitis C (in the lucky minority who do clear virus).

Thirdly, cytotoxic T cell responses to HIV are very important in new infection and lead to a decline in virus in the blood; antibody is only formed later in infection. Infection is always chronic.

So, a person's response to a designer vaccine for Hepatitis B would not predict how they would respond to other natural infections.

Dr. McGovern

Can hep c be cured?
HCV outside of blood?

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