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The ABCs of hepatitis vaccines

Sep. 01, 2013 @ 10:31 PM

If there were a vaccine against goofs, we (and our staff) would be the first ones in line. But, alas, there's no EEV (Edit Error Vaccine). So when an attentive reader pointed out that there's no hepatitis C vaccine either (in a feature last month on common infections, we said there was, even though we know perfectly well vaccines are available only for hep A and B), we wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks for catching the error and to pass along exciting news about the potential for a real hep C vaccine.

The University of Alberta researcher who discovered the hepatitis C virus in 1989 says his team has developed a vaccine that's effective against all strains of hep C -- if clinical trials confirm initial results. In the U.S., researchers at The Scripps Research Institute also have identified antibodies to hep C, and there are even more potential breakthroughs brewing.

In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges everyone born between 1945 and 1965 to get a hep C test -- 67 percent of the 3 million people with hep C in the U.S. are baby boomers, but three-quarters of them don't know they have it! Other folks who should be tested include: anyone who is HIV positive, on dialysis or an IV drug user; and any recipient of clotting factor before 1987 or an organ transplant or transfusion before 1992.

So ask your doc about being tested today, and keep your eye out for the announcement that there finally is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis C.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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