Vaccinations

There are some vaccinations that gay men are strongly encouraged to get to protect themselves against several preventable infections. These include:

  • Meningococcal disease, which although uncommon, can become severe very quickly and can lead to death or permanent disability;
  • hepatitis A and hepatitis B, which both cause inflammation of the liver; and
  • the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the virus that causes genital and anal warts, and in some cases is associated with certain types of cancer.


Meningococcal disease

There have recently been increasing numbers of confirmed cases of meningococcal C disease, most of which have been reported to be in men who have sex with men.

There is a vaccination available which protects against several strains of meningococcal.

In Victoria the vaccination is available for free for gay and bisexual men until the 31st December 2018. 

Speak to your doctor about your options for vaccination. 

Or to find outmore information, including the free vaccine in Victoria, check out the Better Health Channel website.

For more information about meningococcal disease, please go the 'Meningococcal disease' page in ‘STIs’ section.


Hepatitis A & B

For hepatitis A, two doses of the vaccine are required, the second dose is given 6 to 12 months after the initial vaccination. 

For hepatitis B, three doses of the vaccination are required with an interval of 1 to 2 months between the first and the second dose with a third dose at 2 to 5 months after the second dose.

There is also a hepatitis A and B combination vaccination available. Three doses of the vaccine are required; the second dose after 1 month and the third 6 months after the initial vaccination.

For HIV-positive men, hepatitis B antibody level should be tested yearly to check for the need for a booster.

In Victoria:
From 22 January 2018 until 31 December 2018 all men who have sex with men (MSM) will be able to get access to a free, two dose course of hepatitis A vaccine. 
The free hepatitis B vaccine is provided for men who have sex with men and people living with HIV.

In South Australia:
Several clinics are offering the hepatitis A vaccine for free. For more information, see the SAMESH website. 

In Western Australia:
Free hepatitis A and B vaccinations are provided to men who have sex with men at sexual health clinics.

In Brisbane:
Free hepatitis A vaccinations will be offered to men who have sex with men for a limited time from February 2018 at the Brisbane Sexual Health and HIV service, and to men who have sex with men and anyone in the LGBTIQ community at risk of hepatitis A at Clinic 30 each Tuesday at 12-4pm from 27 February. Please go to the Queensland Clinics page for locations.

For more information about hepatitis A and B, please go the 'Hepatitis A' and 'Hepatitis B' pages in ‘STIs’ section.


Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 

There is also a vaccination available which protects against several strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), two strains that cause genital and anal warts, and two strains commonly associated with some cancers.

Some strains of this virus have been associated with abnormal cell changes on the penis or anus, as well as the mouth and throat, with a few strongly associated with cancer. These are the same strains of HPV that are associated with cervical cancer in women.

This vaccine has been offered to women, and is now also now indicatedfor men up to the age of 26. However, it is not currently available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) outside of the school based National Immunisation Program, so the price is not subsidised for adults through this scheme.

In Victoria:
A free catch-up HPV vaccination program is offered until 31 December 2018 for men who have sex with men up to 26 years of age who may have missed the school aged vaccination program.

In South Australia:
A free HPV vaccination program is offered until 31 July 2019 for men who have sex with men up to 26 years of age. For more information, see the SAMESH website. 

In Western Australia:
A free catch-up HPV vaccination program is provided to men who have sex with men at M Clinic. Royal Perth Hospital Sexual Health Clinic also provides free vaccination to men who have sex with men.

The vaccine is most effective if given prior to exposure, however, research has shown that even if you have had prior HPV exposure you may still benefit from vaccination.

If you already have one or more of the strains in the vaccine, you will benefit from the prevention of infection and disease from the strains you have not yet been exposed to.

In people with evidence of prior infection, vaccination can help protect from reacquisition or recurrence of infections leading to warts and other cell changes, including cancer. Research is confirming if this may also be the case for people who have undergone treatment for HPV related external genital lesions.

Speak to your doctor about your options for vaccination.

For more information about HPV, please go to the ‘Genital & Anal Warts’ page in ‘STIs’.