The reach of a hepatitis B vaccination programme among men who have sex with men
Background: Homosexual contact is a major risk factor for acute hepatitis B infection. This study explores how many and which men who have sex with men (MSM) are reached by the ongoing hepatitis B vaccination programme in The Netherlands (started in 2002), and investigate reasons for non-participation and non-compliance. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, on the basis of ethnographic mapping and targeted sampling, 320 MSM were interviewed at different venues in three regions in The Netherlands. Results: Of the sample, 74 reported to be aware of the opportunity to obtain free hepatitis B vaccination, and 50 reported to be vaccinated (received at least one injection). Compliance with the three-dose vaccination schedule was 84. The most important reason for non-participation in the vaccination programme was a low perceived risk of getting infected with the virus. A personal approach by STD-prevention workers, the recruitment region and having sex with casual partners were positively associated with vaccination uptake. Being bisexual was negatively associated with, and visiting gay bars/discos was positively associated with, awareness of the opportunity to obtain free hepatitis B vaccination. Conclusion: This study shows a large proportion of MSM is aware that they could opt for free hepatitis B vaccination. Future vaccination programmes should focus on a personal approach, since the use of STD prevention workers was shown to be a successful tool for participation in the vaccination programme. The personal information should focus on perceived risk of infection, since this was a major reason for vaccine refusal.