A hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection infection, a serious disease that damages the liver. The vaccine is given as a shot. Examples of hepatitis B vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent HBV infection include Engerix-B and Recombivax HB (both brand names).
HBV infection is an HIV-related opportunistic infection. An opportunistic infection is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as those infected with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems.
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA-HIVMA), includes recommendations on the use of hepatitis B vaccines in HIV-infected individuals.
Before receiving a hepatitis B vaccine, tell your health care provider:
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from receiving a hepatitis B vaccine. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
A health care provider gives the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine is injected into a muscle, usually in the arm for adults and children older than 1 year and in the thigh for infants and children younger than 1 year. Vaccination with a hepatitis B vaccine is usually given as a series of two, three, or four vaccine shots over a 4- to 6-month period, depending on the specific brand of the vaccine. Read any printed information that your health care provider gives you about the hepatitis B vaccine.
More information about hepatitis B vaccines is available:
Last Reviewed: April 23, 2015