62% of gay men don’t think Hepatitis B is serious, according to a recent sample survey conducted in Soho.
The poll was conducted by the Hep B vaccination programme Sorted.
It found that most gay men don’t worry about the virus, despite the fact that it can cause life-long liver disease and is 100 times more infectious than HIV.
The potentially fatal disease is preventable by a simple vaccination, but it seems many believe this would be too time-consuming.
Nearly half of those surveyed thought it would take more than half an hour to receive the first dose of the Hep B vaccine. In fact, it takes about seven minutes.
To promote awareness of the disease, free vaccinations without appointment will be on offer throughout August at the Admiral Duncan bar in Soho and Sorted clinics across London.
“There are many ways Hepatitis B is picked up and passed on from person to person,” Dr. Alan McOwan, the Lead Clinician at the Victoria Clinic, told PinkNews.co.uk
“Gay men are at especially high risk of the disease as sex is one of the most common ways the disease is transferred.”
He added: “Hepatitis is a severe, life threatening disease and should be taken seriously. The only real way to protect yourself is to take action and get vaccinated.”
After taking the survey and learning more about Hepatitis B, 83% of respondents said they were more likely to want to get vaccinated.
Marcin Agyris, 27, London, said: “I was first diagnosed with Hepatitis B at the beginning of this year. I didn’t know anything about Hepatitis B or more importantly how serious it could be.
“I was referred to the Victoria Clinic where by this time I also had fever, headache and a painful stomach ache. The doctor told me I had Hepatitis B.
“After about two weeks I started to feel better again. I thought after this I would read more about Hepatitis B.
“I realised just how lucky I had been to get treatment and recover as Hepatitis B can cause life-long liver disease and even death. I felt scared again for all those people who might not be vaccinated.”
According to current statistics, by the age of 35 one in three gay men in London will have had Hepatitis B, according to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
The virus is a potentially deadly inflammation of the liver, which is often contracted through unprotected sex, the sharing of needles or razors, contaminated tattoo and body piercing needles or blood transfusions.
The NHS Trust set up the Sorted Hepatitis B Vaccination Programme, whose goal is to provide service and information about Hepatitis B to gay and bisexual men, as only 50% of them have been vaccinated against Hepatitis B.
For more information about Hepatitis B click here.
The following facilities are also available for Hepatitis vaccinations. They are free and there is no need for an appointment:
Soho Centre for Health and Care, 29-30 Soho Square, London W1
Tel: 020 7534 6500
Barts Sexual Health Centre, Kenton Lucas Wing, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London EC1
Tel: 020 7601 8090
Ambrose King Centre, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London E1
Tel: 020 7377 7306
Sorted at CLASH
11 Warwick Street, London W1
Friday 1730 – 2100
Tel: 020 7734 1794
Sorted at Admiral Duncan
Every Thursday 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th August
54 Old Compton Street
London, W1D 4UB
Tel: 020 7437 5300