Mathurin C. Tejiokem1, Ionela Gouandjika4, Lydie Béniguel5, Marie-Claire Endegue Zanga2, Gilbert Tene6, Jean C. Gody7, Elisabeth Njamkepo8, Anfumbom Kfutwah2, Ida Penda11, Catherine Bilong3, Dominique Rousset2, Régis Pouillot1, Frédéric Tangy9, Laurence Baril10,*
5 December 2007
The Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) is the most cost-effective measures to control vaccine-preventable diseases. Currently, the EPI schedule is similar for HIV-infected children; the introduction of antiretroviral therapy (ART) should considerably prolong their life expectancy.
To evaluate the persistence of antibodies to the EPI vaccines in HIV-infected and HIV-exposed uninfected children who previously received these vaccines in routine clinical practice, we conducted a cross-sectional study of children, aged 18 to 36 months, born to HIV-infected mothers and living in Central Africa. We tested blood samples for antibodies to the combined diphtheria, tetanus, and whole-cell pertussis (DTwP), the measles and the oral polio (OPV) vaccines. We enrolled 51 HIV-infected children of whom 33 were receiving ART, and 78 HIV-uninfected children born to HIV-infected women. A lower proportion of HIV-infected children than uninfected children had antibodies to the tested antigens with the exception of the OPV types 1 and 2. This difference was substantial for the measles vaccine (20% of the HIV-infected children and 56% of the HIV-exposed uninfected children, p<0.0001). We observed a high risk of low antibody levels for all EPI vaccines, except OPV types 1 and 2, in HIV-infected children with severe immunodeficiency (CD4+ T cells <25%).
Children were examined at a time when their antibody concentrations to EPI vaccines would have still not undergone significant decay. However, we showed that the antibody concentrations were lowered in HIV-infected children. Moreover, antibody concentration after a single dose of the measles vaccine was substantially lower than expected, particularly low in HIV-infected children with low CD4+ T cell counts. This study supports the need for a second dose of the measles vaccine and for a booster dose of the DTwP and OPV vaccines to maintain the antibody concentrations in HIV-infected and HIV-exposed uninfected children.