Recurrent bacterial sepsis is common in pediatric HIV infection and immunization against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is recommended. Long term persistence of anti-Hib antibody and the need for, or timing of, a booster dose has not been adequately studied.
Immunogenicity during a 12-month period following immunization with Hib-tetanus conjugate vaccine (ACT-HIB®; Merieux) was evaluated in 48 vertically HIV-infected children and 36 uninfected children, born to HIV-positive mothers. A titer of anti-Hib polysaccharide antibody of ≥0.15 μg/ml was considered to indicate short term and ≥1 μg/ml long term protection.
At 1 month postvaccination 36 (100%) uninfected and 42 (88%) HIV-infected children achieved titers of ≥1 μg/ml. However, by 1 year titers had dropped below this value in 18 (43%) infected compared with only 4 (11%) uninfected children (chi square, 9.7; P = 0.002). Although the rate of fall of antibody titer was greater in uninfected than in infected children, this was no longer the case after adjustment for the 1-month postimmunization titer. The rate of antibody titer decline was not significantly related to HIV disease status or to either the age-related CD4 count at the time of immunization or the change in age-adjusted CD4 count during the 12 months after immunization.
Not only was the initial antibody response to Hib conjugate vaccine decreased in children with HIV infection and AIDS but also 1 year later only 57% of the initial responders had persisting titers above the level associated with long term protection. The need for reimmunization of children with HIV infection against Hib requires further evaluation.