Team," a hepatitis awareness program that aims to
educate gay and bisexual men about the importance and
availability of hepatitis A and B vaccination, is
expanding to New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta this
summer. The project kicked off with a pilot program last
summer in Chicago.
success of the Hep Team's pilot program in Chicago
proves the value of talking directly to at-risk
populations in culturally appropriate terms,"
said Joel Ginsberg, executive director of the Gay and
Lesbian Medical Association, in a statement.
"We believe expanding this program into other
major cities will produce the same encouraging results and
provide a national model for preventing this disease among
men who have sex with men."
hepatitis A and hepatitis B are the only two
vaccine-preventable sexually transmitted diseases that
are prevalent among gay and bisexual men, research
shows only about half of gay men have been vaccinated. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that
all sexually active gay and bisexual men be vaccinated
against hepatitis A and B.
Teams" in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta will
partner with city health departments and
community-based organizations to launch public
information and vaccination campaigns that include free
vaccinations at gay pride festivals, advertisements, Web
sites, and other promotional items. In addition,
outreach worker also will visit bars and clubs and
other community events throughout the summer in each city to
promote vaccine awareness.
New York City
project partners include the city Department of Health and
Mental Hygiene and the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center;
in Atlanta, project partners include the Fulton County
health department and AID Atlanta; in Los Angeles, the
county Department of Health Services, the AIDS
Healthcare Foundation, and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian
Center are serving as team partners.
Hepatitis A and B
can both be transmitted through sexual contact.
Oral-anal contact, or rimming, carries a high risk of
hepatitis A infection. Hepatitis B can be transmitted
through unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse,
sharing sex toys, and sharing needles.
hepatitis A include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and
jaundice. Hepatitis A typically does not become a chronic
disease; it generally runs its course in six to eight
weeks. Hepatitis B symptoms include severe fatigue,
nausea, vomiting, fever, muscle aches, and jaundice.
It can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and possible death.