National News

Hepatitis Immunization Rates Remain Less Than Half for Gay and Bisexual Men

October 23, 2002

This article is part of The Body PRO's archive. Because it contains information that may no longer be accurate, this article should only be considered a historical document.

Though hepatitis A and B immunization rates among men who have sex with men continue to improve, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association President Christopher E. Harris, M.D., said that the numbers are "just not good enough," and that in some cities, "the numbers are deeply troubling."

Over the summer, GLMA surveyed 4,152 men at more than two dozen Pride events around the country. Nationally, only 38 percent of respondents reported receiving any doses of a vaccine against hepatitis A, and 42 percent said they had been vaccinated against hepatitis B. Seattle had the highest rate of vaccination for both hepatitis A (58 percent) and hepatitis B (57 percent), while San Antonio had the lowest rates: 15 percent for hepatitis A and 17 percent for hepatitis B. Other findings include:

  • Respondents with health coverage (81 percent) and a regular health care provider (84 percent) are more likely to be vaccinated, as are those who are "out" (59 percent) to their provider.

  • Respondents who are not out to their provider are wary of asking for vaccination.

  • Many respondents seem not to have completed their vaccination series and may not be fully protected.


  • Respondents who had visited an STD clinic -- who are clearly at risk for sexual transmission of hepatitis A and B -- are only slightly more likely to be vaccinated against either disease than those who have never visited an STD clinic (42 percent vs. 35 percent for hepatitis A; 45 percent vs. 40 percent for hepatitis B).

"Why aren't these men being vaccinated when they visit the clinic?" asked Harris. "This is precisely where we can make a difference."

Annual GLMA surveys do indicate a gradual increase in vaccination rates over time. In Chicago, hepatitis A vaccination increased from 19 percent in 1998 to 47 percent in 2002. Los Angeles moved from 20 percent to 33 percent; New York from 27 to 48 percent; and San Francisco from 25 percent to 32 percent. Hepatitis B vaccination showed less but still promising growth. Chicago's numbers improved only 2 percent, New York showed a gain of 18 percent, San Francisco showed a 6-point jump and Los Angeles a 4 percent increase.

Back to other CDC news for October 23, 2002

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Adapted from:
AIDS Weekly

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.


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