September 23, 2002
-- Though immunization rates for hepatitis A and B among men who have sex with men continue to improve, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) President Christopher E. Harris, MD, says that the numbers are "just not good enough," and that in some cities, "the numbers are deeply troubling. We need to send the message that vaccines will prevent transmission. Save yourself the extreme discomfort of the illness, the lost work, the potentially dangerous complications, and possibly your life. Get vaccinated!"
Over the summer, GLMA surveyed 4,152 men at more than two dozen Pride events around the country. Only 38 percent of respondents on a national basis reported receiving any doses of a vaccine against hepatitis A, and 42 percent said they'd been vaccinated against hepatitis B. Seattle had the highest rates of vaccination for both hepatitis A (58 percent) and hepatitis B (57 percent), while San Antonio had the lowest vaccination rates: 15 percent for hepatitis A and 17 percent for hepatitis B.
"One factor seems apparent," Harris continued. "In such cities as Seattle, where the department of public health conducted an aggressive hepatitis A and B immunization campaign, it worked. We urge all public health departments and community medical centers to increase awareness of the risks of hepatitis, the availability of vaccine, and to offer free or low-cost immunization to the public."
GLMA surveys conducted annually in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco do indicate a gradual increase in vaccination rates over time. In 1998, Chicago's survey indicated that 19 percent had been vaccinated against hepatitis A. The number rose to 47 percent in 2002. Los Angeles moved from 20 percent to 33 percent; New York from 27 percent to 48 percent; and San Francisco from 25 to 32 percent. Immunizations against B showed less but still promising growth. While Chicago's numbers showed only a 2 percentage point improvement, New York showed a gain of 18 percent in four years from 31 to 49 percent, San Francisco showed a 6-point jump and Los Angeles a 4 point increase.
Hepatitis A and B are two serious liver diseases that affect men who have sex with men at a higher rate than the general population. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and GLMA both recommend vaccination for hepatitis A and B for all gay and bisexual men. For more information on hepatitis, go to www.glma.org and click on hepatitis. To find an LGBT-friendly health care provider, click on Online Health Care Providers.
Respondents who answered "yes" to the question, "Have you ever received any shots for Hepatitis A?"
|Seattle||58.5%||Chicago Black Pride||37.6|
|St. Louis||49.6||Rochester, NY||36.3|
|Washington, DC||48.7||Brooklyn, NY||35.1|
|Chicago (Halsted)||47.4||Los Angeles||32.7|
|Buffalo, NY||46.3||Long Beach, CA||32.4|
|Queens, NY||45.5||San Francisco||32.4|
|NYC Black Pride||38.7||Syracuse, NY||26.3|
Respondents who answered "yes" to the question, "Have you ever received any shots for Hepatitis B?"
|Queens, NY||47.7||Brooklyn, NY||37.4|
|Washington, DC||46.8||Austin, TX||36.4|
|Chicago (Halsted St.)||44.0||NY Black Pride||33.3|
|Denver||42.4||Chicago Black Pride||33.1|
|All Cities||42.1||Huntington, NY||32.7|
|Long Beach, CA||31.5|
The largest organization of its kind and the recognized authority and leader in LGBT health, GLMA exists to make the health care environment a place of empathy, justice, and equity. The organization, founded in 1981, represents the concerns of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health professionals as well as millions of LGBT patients throughout North America.
Contact: Ron Tierney, 415-255-4547, ext., 309, or email@example.com.