Objectives: This study investigated hepatitis B immunization coverage and the extent of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection among young men who have sex with men (MSM), a group for whom hepatitis B vaccine has been recommended since 1982.
Methods: We analyzed data from 3432 MSM, aged 15 to 22 years, randomly sampled at 194 gay-identified venues in 7 US metropolitan areas from 1994 through 1998. Participants were interviewed, counseled, and tested for serologic markers of HBV infection.
Results: Immunization coverage was 9% and the prevalence of markers of HBV infection was 11%. HBV infection ranged from 2% among 15-year-olds to 17% among 22-year-olds. Among participants susceptible to HBV infection, 96% used a regular source of health care or accessed the health care system for HIV or sexually transmitted disease testing.
Conclusions: Despite the availability of an effective vaccine for nearly 2 decades, our findings suggest that few adolescent and young adult MSM in the United States are vaccinated against hepatitis B. Health care providers should intensify their efforts to identify and vaccinate young MSM who are susceptible to HBV.