If you’re a gay man who’s not been vaccinated against hepatitis B, you’re not alone – around half of all gay men haven’t had a vaccination course, and many who start a course never come back to their clinic to finish it. Terrence Higgins Trust’s latest health promotion campaign tells gay men all about the risks of contracting hepatitis B during sex, and how easy it is to get vaccinated.
Will Nutland, Head of Gay Men’s Health Promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust said: “Hepatitis B has quite a low profile amongst gay men, yet it can easily be passed on during sex. Many men don’t realise that it’s easier to catch than HIV, or that it can make you very ill and can even be fatal. Luckily, it’s entirely preventable, thanks to a safe and effective vaccine which is available free from sexual health clinics across the UK. A course of three injections and a follow-up blood test can give you immunity for life – it’s easy to do and could save you from having or passing on a very nasty illness.”
Although getting vaccinated against hepatitis B is easy and effective, many men fail to return to their clinic for the second and third injections. The injections are usually given over a six month period, and this can make it easy to forget about completing the course. In addition, some clinics are now offering vaccination courses with shorter intervals between the injections, and four clinics in London are running a pilot programme to improve recall for repeat jabs by automatically texting or emailing men to remind them of their return appointments.
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Will continued: “There’s no reason why a gay man in the UK today should be at risk from hepatitis B. By raising gay men’s awareness of the virus and how easy it is to get vaccinated, we hope this campaign will encourage far more people to complete their course and get fully immunised.”