Can I get vaccinated against STIs?
There are vaccines available that will stop you from catching hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV. HPV is the virus that can cause cervical, head, neck and anal cancers and genital warts.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that can cause infections that may develop into a type of cancer or genital warts. It’s very common, most people will get it at some point in their lives. It can be passed on through any kind of sexual contact with someone who has HPV. It can also spread through non-sexual contact.
People can have the virus without having any symptoms. Most people will have the virus without knowing and their bodies will get rid of it without needing any treatment.
The vaccine comes in 2 or 3 injections. Since 2008, girls aged 12-13 have been offered the HPV vaccine in schools. In 2019, this was extended to boys of the same age.
Who is eligible for free HPV vaccinations?
If you were not vaccinated at school, free HPV vaccinations are available to:
anybody up to age 25
men, including trans men, aged 45 or under who have sex with men
trans women aged 45 or under, who have a similar risk level to men who have sex with men.
You’ll need to visit your local sexual health clinic or HIV clinic to ask about getting the vaccine.
If you’re not eligible for the free vaccine, you can pay for it privately. Some sexual health clinics run a private service where you can pay for a course of vaccinations. Ask at your local NHS sexual health clinic to find out more.
Hepatitis A vaccination
Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver. It’s spread through poo that carries the virus. You’re more likely to catch it if you have anal sex or anal sexual contact, or if you’re in a part of the world that has poor sanitation and food hygiene.
Most people in the UK have a low risk of getting hepatitis A. But you can get the vaccine if you’re in a high-risk category or you’re planning to travel to an area where the virus is widespread.
People considered high risk for hepatitis A include:
close contacts of someone with hepatitis A
people with any type of long-term liver disease
men who have sex with other men
people who inject illegal drugs
people who may be at risk of hepatitis A through their job
To get the vaccine, talk to your GP or visit a sexual health clinic.
Hepatitis B vaccination
The hepatitis B virus causes an infection in the liver. It’s passed on through blood and other body fluids. It’s not very common in the UK, but some people are at more risk than others. If you are in a high-risk group, you can get vaccinated for free.
The hepatitis B vaccine is a course of three or four injections over 6 to 12 months that greatly reduces the risk of acquiring the virus.
You can learn more about the hepatitis B vaccine from the NHS.