Even people who are trying to be responsible about their sexual health by getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can still miss opportunities to keep themselves safe. A recent study conducted at Brown University found that many high-risk Americans are not receiving the hepatitis B vaccine, even though many of these individuals are getting tested for STDs. This may shed light on why thousands of people in the U.S. continue to contract this virus each year.
“This is a really simple thing that we could do and if somebody ends up getting the disease because we didn’t make the effort then I think that’s really a shame,” said Brian Montague, assistant professor of medicine in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a physician at The Miriam Hospital. Montague and his colleagues conducted a survey and found that more than 50 percent of individuals polled had not been vaccinated for hepatitis B, despite the fact that many of them had regular contact with their healthcare provider and multiple opportunities to receive the vaccine. This suggests that there are not enough awareness efforts being made to encourage people to get this shot. The individuals surveyed for this study were admitted intravenous drug users or people who regularly engaged in risky sexual practices, so they were particularly in need of the vaccine.
Furthermore, study authors found that many of these individuals reported getting regularly tested for HIV. The researchers stated that this suggests that clinics and facilities that offer STD testing could be a good venue for people to receive the hepatitis B vaccine. “Given that the risks for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C overlap, what we need is integrated testing and prevention programs and strategies that link those cases identified with effective treatment in the community,” concluded Montague.