Hepatitis B and HPV Vaccinations
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a virus that affects the liver and can cause acute (i.e. less than 6 months) or chronic (i.e. more than 6 months) infection. HBV is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids with an infected person.
This can happen during:
- Unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex
- Biting or being bitten by an infected person
- Sharing toothbrushes, razors, or needles
- Sharing sex toys with an infected person
HBV can live outside the body (in bodily fluids) for up to a week, and it is about 50 - 100 times more infectious than HIV.
The best way to prevent getting HBV is to get vaccinated. Since 2017, HBV vaccination has been part of the routine immunisation schedule for all children in the UK, and it is also available for adults in the UK who are considered “high risk.”
For more information on whether you should be vaccinated, please contact your GP or GUM clinic.
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses. Most types are harmless but some can cause genital warts or different types of cancers, including: cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, vulval cancer, anal cancer and cancer of the penis.
You can get HPV from:
- Any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area
- Vaginal, anal or oral sex
- Sharing sex toys
In England, both girls and boys aged 12 to 13 years are now offered the HPV vaccine when they're in school. If you missed the HPV vaccine in school, you can have it free on the NHS up until your 25th birthday.
The HPV vaccine was originally only offered to girls under the principle of herd immunity, so men who have sex with men (MSM) may have been left unprotected against HPV.
Since April 2018, MSM, up to and including those who are 45 years of age, are eligible for free HPV vaccination on the NHS from sexual health clinics and HIV clinics in England.