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Hepatitis B vaccine less effective for arthritis patients

London (IANS): People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are less likely to be protected by hepatitis B vaccination than the general population, new research suggests.

Within the trial, only 11 percent of those with the condition responded to the vaccine, compared with 83 percent of those without RA.

“The majority of RA patients tested as part of our study were not protected by hepatitis B vaccination,” said study investigator Misha Tilanus from Radboud University’s Medical Centre in Netherlands.

“People with RA have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality from infections, and to discover that immunisation might not confer protection is a real concern. It’s crucial that patients and healthcare practitioners are aware of this lack of efficacy and do all they can to minimise risk,” Tilanus said.

The results were presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress.

RA is a chronic systemic disease that affects the joints, connective tissues, muscle, tendons and fibrous tissue.

The prevalence of RA globally varies between 0.3-1 percent and is more common in women and in developed countries.

RA — and many of its treatments — can suppress the immune system, leaving patients at risk of a potentially fatal infection.

For the study, vaccination with HBVAXPRO-10 was performed according to the standard regimen (0, 1 and 6 months), with markers of response to the vaccine (hepatitis B antigens, anti-HBsAG) determined after 28 weeks.

RA patients had a higher risk for non-response than controls.

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