Hepatitis C Vaccination: Where We Are and Where We Need to Be
Abstract: The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a common cause of chronic liver disease and liver cancer worldwide. Despite advances in curative therapies for HCV, the incidence of new infections is not decreasing at the expected rate to hit theWorld Health Organization (WHO) target for the elimination of HCV by 2030. In fact, there are still more new cases of infection in the United States and worldwide than are being cured. The reasons for the rise in new cases include poor access to care and the opioid epidemic. The clinical burden of HCV requires a multimodal approach to eradicating the infection. Vaccination would be an excellent tool to prevent incidence of new infections; however, the genetic diversity of HCV and its ability to generate quasispecies within an infected host make creating a broadly reactive vaccine difficult. Multiple vaccine candidates have been identified, but to date, there has not been a target that has led to a broadly reactive vaccine, though several of the candidates are promising. Additionally, the virus is very difficult to culture and testing candidates in humans or chimpanzees is ethically challenging. Despite the multiple barriers to creating a vaccine, vaccination still represents an important tool in the fight against HCV.