In a follow-up on the outbreak of hepatitis A cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-positive) in Hong Kong, The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) reports that retrospective investigations into previously reported cases further identified 11 hepatitis A cases among MSM from September 2015 to 2017 as of February 3, bringing the total to 24 cases affecting MSM aged from 22 to 51, with 20 who were known to be positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Among them, 20 have been discharged after hospitalization and the remaining four required no admission. All patients have recovered upon supportive treatment.
“Regarding the new 11 cases, most of their onsets were as early as April 2016 while three had recent onsets in January 2017. Of note, the latest situation suggests that, apart from spreading among HIV-positive MSM, the hepatitis A virus may have spread among MSM in the community by sexual transmission,” a spokesman for the CHP said.
As for the one-off free hepatitis A vaccination for target MSM groups to control the outbreak, as of Feb 8, about 150 doses had been administered in the public healthcare sector.
“While investigations, enhanced surveillance and clinical vigilance are ongoing, we again appeal to eligible MSM attendees for vaccination in the public sector. Other MSM should consult their doctor if in doubt for vaccination in the private sector for personal protection. Vaccinating susceptible individuals together with safer sex and strict personal hygiene are key to preventing hepatitis A via sexual transmission,” the spokesman added.
The vaccination arrangements for target MSM groups are as follows:
- The DH’s Integrated Treatment Centre (Tel: 2116 2888) has informed its current MSM attendees for vaccination;
- The AIDS Clinical Service of Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Tel: 3506 5855) and the Infectious Disease Special Medical Clinic of Princess Margaret Hospital (Tel: 6461 0613) have also informed their current HIV-positive MSM patients for vaccination; and
- Current MSM attendees of the DH’s Wan Chai Male Social Hygiene Clinic (Tel: 3103 2400) and Yau Ma Tei Male Social Hygiene Clinic (Tel: 2359 4377) should attend the clinic for consultation and vaccination if appropriate.
In addition, the CHP has stepped up health education and publicity based on its Red Ribbon Centre’s ongoing community programs for MSM in collaboration with non-governmental organisations to raise their awareness of the risk of contracting hepatitis A via sexual transmission, promote safe sex, and encourage them to consult a doctor if necessary.