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Levels of antibodies against the monkeypox virus compared by HIV status and historical smallpox vaccinations: a serological study.

Men who have sex with men and people living with HIV are disproportionately affected in the 2022 multi-country monkeypox epidemic. The smallpox vaccine can induce cross-reactive antibodies against the monkeypox virus (MPXV) and reduce the risk of infection. Data on antibodies against MPXV induced by historic smallpox vaccination in people with HIV are scarce. In this observational study, plasma samples were collected from people living with and without HIV in Shenzhen, China. We measured antibodies binding to two representative proteins of vaccinia virus (VACV; A27L and A33R) and homologous proteins of MPXV (A29L and A35R) using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We compared the levels of these antibodies between people living with and without HIV. Stratified analyses were performed based on the year of birth of 1981 when the smallpox vaccination was stopped in China. Plasma samples from 677 people living with HIV and 746 people without HIV were tested. A consistent pattern was identified among the four antibodies, regardless of HIV status. VACV antigen-reactive and MPXV antigen-reactive antibodies induced by historic smallpox vaccination were detectable in the people born before 1981, and antibody levels reached a nadir during or after 1981. The levels of smallpox vaccine-induced antibodies were comparable between people living with HIV and those without HIV. Our findings suggest that the antibody levels against MPXV decreased in both people living with and without HIV due to the cessation of smallpox vaccination.

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