The Center for Health Protection (CHP) will begin offering free hepatitis A vaccines for homosexual men on Friday after a surge in the number of cases of the disease, the Hong Kong economic Journal reports.
CHP controller Dr. Wong Ka-hing said an unusual increase in the number of hepatitis A cases affecting HIV-positive MSM (men who have sex with men) who attend designated public clinics, has been observed since August last year.
Thirteen cases involving men aged 26 to 48 were recorded between September 2015 and January 2017, including two in August and September and three in each of the following two months.
That compares with zero to two cases per year from 2006 to 2015.
While they have all been cured, five of them have recently contracted syphilis, chlamydia infection and gonorrhoea.
Wong said hepatitis A is spread through contaminated water and food, as well as sexual intercourse.
However, epidemiological investigations have not identified a common food or water source among the cases, suggesting that male person-to-person sexual transmission may have accounted for the outbreak.
To control the further spread of hepatitis A, two doses of hepatitis A vaccines will be offered to MSM, or high-risk men, at designated public clinics as a one-off measure.
The effort will benefit about 1,800 attendees.
Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, a CHP consultant on community medicine (communicable disease), said the hepatitis A virus can lay dormant in non-HIV people for more than 20 days and in HIV patients for more than 50 days.
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