Join Kristine Alarcon, MPH for A Day in the Life of a Public Health Coordinator to learn about some of the activities we at the Hepatitis B Foundation take part in!
Join Kristine Alarcon, MPH for A Day in the Life of a Public Health Coordinator to learn about some of the activities we at the Hepatitis B Foundation take part in!
The Hepatitis B Foundation was excited to share a special film screening of Hilleman: A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children.
The documentary film, produced by The Vaccine Makers Project, follows the unknown story of a man who “had more of an impact on [people’s] lives compared to Einstein.” The film tells the story of a courageous and gutsy scientist, Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman, and the elimination of diseases of children. With his unwavering determination, Dr. Hilleman invented the first-ever vaccine against a human cancer (the hepatitis B vaccine), developed the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) combination vaccine, and prevented pandemic flu. During World War II he developed an urgently needed vaccine for Japanese B encephalitis in 30 days.
He is responsible for more than half of the vaccines children receive today and is credited with saving more than eight million lives every year. Now through exclusive interviews with Dr. Hilleman and his peers, rare archival footage, and 3-D animation, this new documentary puts a human face to vaccine science, revealing the character that drove this bold, complex, and heroic man.
When parents began choosing not to vaccinate their children in the 1990s, a cruel irony became clear; Hilleman’s unprecedented successes have allowed us to forget just how devastating childhood diseases can be. The documentary reminds us by allowing us to see these diseases as part of the film.
Community members from Philadelphia and Bucks County came for the film screening as they enjoyed fun movie snacks. They also enjoyed a panel discussion moderated by Timothy Block, PhD, with the documentary director and esteemed representatives from scientific community. Expert panelists included Donald Rayne Mitchell, Paul Offit, MD, David Oshinsky, PhD, and Walter Tsou, MD, MPH. They shared their thoughts on the documentary, Dr. Hilleman’s life, and the future of vaccines. Mitchell and Dr. Offit expressed that the documentary film was created to “inspire a kid or to get into [scientific] work someday,” and to “put a human face on vaccines.”
Be on the look out for a special “preview” vlog of the film screening at the end of December 2017.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective 3-shot series that protects against the hepatitis B virus. If you do not have a current hepatitis B infection, or have not recovered from a past infection, then hepatitis B vaccination is an important way to protect yourself. The recommended schedule for the hepatitis B vaccine is to receive the first shot, followed in one month by the second shot. Six months following the first shot, you should receive your third and final shot of the series.
If you wish to ensure you have generated adequate immunity, and are protected, you can have your anti-HBs (HBsAb) titres checked 4-8 weeks following the last shot of the hepatitis B vaccine series. If your titer is greater than 10 mIU/mL, then you have adequate immunity which is thought to confer lifetime immunity, but studies so far show 30 years. This is because these studies are on-going!
Please note that checking anti-HBs titres is not generally recommended for all vaccine recipients, with the exception of those that are at greater risk of infection. This includes but is not limited to health care workers, those with sexual partners with hepatitis B, and those living in a household where someone is infected. Talk to your doctor if you think you might be at higher risk and need to have your titres checked.
So what happens if you go for shot one, followed by shot two in a month, but you never get to shot three? The minimum length of time between the three shots in the series is 0, 1 month, and 6 months. This is the schedule recommended for the shortest amount of time, with the best immune response for the general population. However, if you don’t get to shot three of the series for another two years, or if you never got to shot two, you can resume right from where you left off, and continue without the need for repeating the series. Just remember that you are not fully protected until you have completed the series.
Here is a rule to remember the minimum time in between shots in the series:
Dose 2 should be separated by dose 1 by at least one month (4 weeks or 28 days)
Dose 3 should be separated by dose 2 by at least 2 months (8 weeks) AND from dose 1 by at least 4 months (16 weeks).
Keep in mind that the goal is to get people protected in the shortest amount of time, with the fewest number of doses. If you do not complete the series, you will not have adequate, longterm protection from hepatitis B.
What happens if you don’t have your vaccine records, and you have no idea if you ever got shot 1 or 2, and you just want to repeat the series? There is no concern with repeating the HBV vaccine series, so if you are unsure, please start the series from shot 1.
What about an accelerated schedule? Generally doctors advise against an accelerated schedule since it requires a 4th dose in order to provide long term protection. It’s hard enough to get people to adhere to the 3-shot schedule. Planning for a 4th dose in a year is a challenge.
What happens if you are pregnant; is it safe to get vaccinated? Absolutely yes!
What do you do while you’re waiting to complete the series? Be sure to take basic precautions avoiding direct contact with infected blood and practice safe sex.
Be sure you and your loved ones vaccinated are against hepatitis B so you can be hepatitis B free for life!
Are you or someone you know at risk for hepatitis B? You might be more at risk than you think, and since hepatitis B is vaccine preventable, it makes sense to get tested and vaccinated for HBV. Hepatitis B is the number one cause of liver cancer worldwide. The survival statistics for liver cancer are particularly grim, with a relative 16,6% 5-year survival rate. The hepatitis B vaccine also protects against hepatitis delta, the most severe form of viral hepatitis.
It is important to note that everyone is susceptible to hepatitis B. It does not discriminate. It infects, babies, children, teens, adults and seniors. It has no racial or religious bias, though it is certainly more prevalent among certain ethnic groups –mainly because it is endemic to the homelands of these communities. For example, if you look at the prevalence map for hepatitis B, you will see that in most of the world, hepatitis B is at an intermediate, (2-7%) or high HBsAg prevalence (>8%) level. Looking at the numbers, 2 billion people in the world, that’s 1 out of 3 people, have been infected with HBV and 257 million are chronically infected. That represents three-quarters of our world. Even if you aren’t living in these parts of the world, you may be traveling to some of these areas for work or pleasure, or perhaps your parents and other family members were born in HBV endemic areas. Since there are often no symptoms for HBV, and screening and vaccination may be lacking in some populations, HBV is transmitted from one generation to the next, with many completely unaware of their HBV status – until it’s too late.
People at risk for hepatitis B include the following: (not noted in a particular order)
The good news is that hepatitis B is a vaccine preventable disease. There is a safe and effective, 3-shot HBV vaccine series that can protect you and your loved ones from possible infection with HBV. The earlier you are vaccinated, the better. In the US, a birth dose of the vaccine is recommended for all infants, since these little ones are most vulnerable to hepatitis. (90% of infected infants will live with HBV for life). HBV vaccination doesn’t give you a free-pass from other infectious diseases such as HCV or HIV, both without vaccines, so strict infection control practices should still be followed. However, HBV is a tenacious virus that survives outside the body for a week and is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV 3-5 times more infectious than HCV. Plus the HBV vaccine is actually an anti-cancer vaccine, so why not get vaccinated?
Hepatitis B isn’t casually transmitted, but in the right scenario, it is effectively transmitted. You may think that situation may never come about for you, or for your loved ones –especially your little ones who are so vulnerable to HBV. Some people travel to exotic lands with unsafe blood supplies and poor infection control practices, and sometimes they get sick, or require emergency dental or medical services, so they may be put at risk. Most people have had a lapse in judgment – sometimes it’s a one-time thing, sometimes it lasts for years, but the net-net is that it’s unusual to find someone who has not engaged in some sort of high-risk activity, whether intentionally or unintentionally. If you are properly vaccinated to protect against hepatitis B, you can cross that concern off your list.
B sure. Get screened. if you do not have HBV, get vaccinated and be hepatitis B free. If you discover you have HBV, talk to your doctor and have him refer you to a liver specialist who can better evaluate your hepatitis B status and your liver health.
How can you prevent future transmission? Now that you are aware of your infection, it’s easier than you think. In a perfect world, everyone would be vaccinated against HBV and be protected, but of course this is sometimes not the case. Always encourage HBV vaccination when possible now that you understand the importance of this safe and effective 3-shot series. However, the vaccine does take time to complete, so in the interim, some general precautions will keep you and everyone you know safe.
Always maintain a barrier between blood and infected body fluids and any open cuts, mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth), or orifices of someone else. Keep cuts, bug bites – anything that bleeds or oozes – covered with a bandage. Also, remember to carry a spare bandage. These are some simple prevention methods.
Do not consider unprotected sex unless you are sure your partner has had all 3 shots of the HBV vaccine series. And remember to consider the risks of other infectious diseases that are transmitted sexually if you are not in a monogamous relationship. Multiple sex partners and non-monogamous relationships expose you to the potential of more health risks and even the possibility of a co-infection. Co-infections are when someone has more than one serious chronic condition (like HBV and HCV , HBV and HIV or HBV and HDV). Co-infections are complicated health conditions that you want to avoid. Therefore, practice safe sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom if you have multiple partners.
General precautions include carefully handling of your own blood, tending to your own blood spills when possible, and properly disposing of feminine hygiene products. Properly dispose of blood stained materials in tightly closed plastic bags. If someone else must tend to your bleeding wound or clean up your blood spill, be sure they wear gloves, or maintain a barrier, and wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water. Many germs and virus (like HBV) can be effectively killed when cleaned using a diluted bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Ideally this solution should be made when needed as the shelf life is limited. Everyone should use these basic precautions – with or without a known HBV infection. Make this part of your daily life.
And what about your personal items? Well it’s best if they are kept personal and out of common areas unless everyone is vaccinated. This includes things like razors, nail clippers, files, toothbrushes and other personal items where microscopic droplets of blood are possible. This is good practice for everyone in the house. After all, you may not be the only one with an infection. Simple changes in daily habits keep everyone safe.
If those at risk in your life that are not already vaccinated or have not recovered from a past infection (Get tested first!), then they need to start the series immediately. This includes sexual partners and close house hold contacts and family members. The HBV vaccine is a safe and effective 3-shot series. Timing may be of concern or a sense of urgency, so just get it started. The regular schedule is completed within six months. Tack on an extra month and ask their doctor to test surface antibody (anti-HBs) titers 1-2 months following the last shot of the series to ensure that adequate immunity has been generated by the vaccine. This is not standard routine but will help insure those at higher risk that they are protected. In the interim, remember to practice safe sex with your partner using latex or polyurethane condoms.
The timing of the antibody titre should be 4-8 weeks following the last shot of the series. If titers are above 10 then there is protection for life. If someone has been previously vaccinated a titer test may show that their titers have waned and dipped below the desired reading. There is no reason to panic, as a booster shot can be administered and then a repeated titer test one month later will ensure adequate immunity. Once you know you have generated adequate titers, there is no need for concern of transmission.
When recovering from an acute infection, if your follow up blood test results read: HBsAg negative, HBcAb positive and HBsAb positive then you have resolved your HBV infection and are no longer infectious to others and you are no longer at risk for infection by the HBV virus again.
However if your follow up blood tests show that you are chronically infected or your infection status is not clear, you will want to take the precautionary steps to prevent transmitting your HBV infection to others. You will also need to talk to your doctor to be sure you have the appropriate blood work to determine your HBV status and whether or not you are chronically infected.
Please be sure to talk to your doctor if you are unsure, and don’t forget to get copies of those labs. Check out transmission part I and part II if you are looking for a little more transmission information.
By Christine Kukka
Hepatitis B is the global pandemic no one talks about, yet one in three people worldwide has been infected. In 2013, hepatitis B and C together was the seventh-leading cause of death worldwide, with hepatitis B causing 780,000 deaths annually.
Today, 257 million people have chronic hepatitis B. Despite the availability of an effective vaccine, the number of people living with hepatitis B virus is projected to remain at the current, unacceptably high level for decades and cause 20 million deaths through 2030.
How can this happen? Viral hepatitis infection and death rates far outstrip that of ebola and zika. In fact, you have to combine the death toll from HIV and tuberculosis to find human suffering on par with what viral hepatitis causes around the world each year. Continue reading "One in Three People Worldwide Has Had Hepatitis B, So Why Do We Feel So Alone?"
Flu season is here and if you or a family member lives with chronic hepatitis B, it’s time to get a flu shot as soon as possible!
Why? According to an article in the November 2015 issue of the medical journal Vaccine, chronic hepatitis B patients who get a flu shot have a lower rate of flu-related hospitalizations than patients who skip the annual flu vaccine. Continue reading "Cold and Flu Season Is Here. If You Live with Hepatitis B, You Need a Flu Shot. Now."
Most people living with chronic hepatitis B today are over age 50, and like their younger counterparts, they need to prevent spreading hepatitis B to their sexual partners, housemates, and neighbors in assisted living facilities.
You’re never too old for safe sex: You may not have to worry about pregnancy any more, but you still need to protect yourself and your partner against sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis B. Using a condom (and keeping a barrier between you and potentially infectious body fluids) is essential because many seniors have not been immunized against hepatitis B.
The widespread marketing of erectile dysfunction drugs allows for sex by older men, and thinning and dryness of vaginal tissue in older women may raise their risk of infection during intercourse. Continue reading "Growing Older with Hepatitis B: Prevention and Precautions Still Matter"
The mood was euphoric. It was a love fest, actually. Last week, more than 600 policy makers, public health experts, and representatives from non-governmental organizations and patient advocacy groups from 80 countries were invited to participate in the first World Hepatitis Summit in Scotland hosted by the World Hepatitis Alliance in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). The Hepatitis B Foundation was pleased to be invited and to speak during the pre-summit meeting as well.
The message was serious. Hepatitis B and C kill more people each year than HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and combined are the seventh-leading cause of death worldwide, yet viral hepatitis as a global health concern remains mostly invisible and under-funded. Continue reading "First World Hepatitis Summit Focuses on Global Plan for Elimination by 2030"
When my daughter, who has chronic hepatitis B, packed for her freshman year of college, I peppered her with warnings about the need for standard precautions and condoms. I suggested wording for a future conversation where she would disclose her infection and negotiate safe sex with a potential partner.
I hoped these verbal dress rehearsals would empower and protect her, especially if that potential boyfriend turned her down. I wanted her to know that any rejection would not be about her or her hepatitis B, it would be about his fears. Continue reading "Preparing for College, Dating and Disclosing Hepatitis B"