Hep A is not treatable. It is important to get vaccinated! Currently, the center is not offering Hep A vaccine, however there are locations in the area that are available.
According to the CDC, gay and bisexual men and transgender women face a disproportionately higher risk of contracting Hepatitis A virus (Hep A) infections among adults in the United States1. Hep A is a communicable disease commonly spread through oral-fecal contact (including rimming). Fortunately, there is a safe and effective vaccine to prevent Hep A2. However the Hep A vaccine was not routinely provided to children prior to 1999, so many adults have never been vaccinated. Hep A can be spread through sexual activity or contact with fingers or objects that have the virus on it.
Despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines that can prevent Hep A infection, many gay and bisexual men have not been adequately vaccinated for it3. Nationally and in the state of Pennsylvania, rates of Hep A infection have been on the rise. According to the PA Secretary of Health, the rate of infection almost doubled in 20184 Data from CDC indicates that a widespread person-to-person outbreak of Hep A is still occurring in Pennsylvania as of June 2020. Additional data available from CDC indicates that only approximately 30 percent of gay and bisexual men are vaccinated.
THE BARRIERS TO CARE
There are numerous barriers in place. One in four LGBT people in the Lehigh Valley report having had a negative past experience from a healthcare professional and one in ten fear going to a healthcare professional as a result. According to the 2018 Pennsylvania LGBT Health Needs Assessment, 17% of LGBT Pennsylvanians don't have someone they consider to be their personal doctor. What's more, many healthcare providers lack cultural humility and medical competency regarding the sexual health needs of gay, bisexual, and queer men, and trans women. Further, there is a knowledge gap within the LGBT community regarding how Hep A is spread and the availability of the Hep A Vaccine.
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1: “Viral Hepatitis: A Health Concern for Gay and Bisexual Men Deserving Attention” Office of HIV/Policy. Accessed January 3, 2018. https://www.hiv.gov/blog/viral-hepatitis-a-health-concern-for-gay-and-bisexual-men-deserving-attention-during-lgbt-pride-month
2: “Gay and Bisexual Men's Health: Hepatitis A.” Center for Disease Control. Accessed January 3, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm
3: “Hepatitis A ACIP Vaccine Recommendations” Center for Disease Control. Accessed January 3, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/vacc-specific/hepa.html
4: “Wolf Administration Alerts Public of Increasing Hepatitis A Cases Across Pennsylvania” https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=544
5:“Widespread person-to-person outbreaks of hepatitis A across the United States | CDC.” (2020). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/outbreaks/2017March-HepatitisA.htm
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