There are several sexually transmitted infections that can be safely and effectively prevented prior to exposure by the use of vaccines. These vaccine-preventable STIs include Human papillomavirus (HPV) and viral hepatitis (types A and B).
HPV vaccination (Gardasil) is recommended for everyone between the ages of 9-26 and can be used to prevent genital warts, cervical cancer, and other HPV-associated cancers. It is most effective when administered prior to becoming sexually active for the first time.
Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for everyone and is often administered in infancy. This vaccine effectively prevents the Hepatitis B virus, which can be passed through sexual contact (as well as other types of contact, such as during childbirth) and is associated with chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Immunization against HBV is required to enroll as a student at the University of California.
If you’re not sure whether you’ve been vaccinated against HBV, a clinician can order a blood test called an HBV titer to help decide whether you should start the vaccine series or not.
Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all men who have sex with men, as well as several other higher-risk populations. The Hepatitis A vaccine effectively prevents the Hepatitis A virus, which can cause an acute infection of the liver resulting in fever, nausea, jaundice, abdominal pain, and, rarely, liver failure and death.
Meningococcal vaccination is now being recommended for certain groups of men who have sex with men from New York City or Los Angeles County, in addition to current guidelines calling for immunization of all adolescents and first-year college students living in residence halls.
Meningococcal infection is passed through inhalation or intimate contact with secretions from the mouth, nose, or throat. Early symptoms of meningococcal meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, and confusion, and can be fatal if untreated.