Free Hep-A vaccines now available at LGBT community center

Free Hep-A vaccines now available at LGBT community center

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The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is teaming up with the popular dating app Grindr for its new campaign aimed at increasing access to hepatitis-A vaccinations for the Lehigh Valley’s LGBTQ community.

The campaign, called, “Taste of Peaches,” is the community center’s latest push for addressing the disparities in LGBTQ health. "Taste of Peaches" will provide community members with free hepatitis-A vaccinations throughout the year.

“It’s critical that we remember the history of LGBT health in America. It was 30 years ago when LGBT voices were fighting against everything to learn the basic information about LGBT health,” said Adrian Shanker, executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan. “LGBTQ people have always been our own healthcare advocates. This campaign is no different because this is about us making sure that our community has the information and resources on how to protect ourselves through vaccinations that are readily available.”

Shanker noted that despite the availability of hepatitis-A vaccines, many LGBTQ people, specifically gay and bisexual men, have not been adequately vaccinated for the virus. Last year, the state’s Department of Health reported that over the past several years, there have been 40 to 60 hepatitis-A cases reported in Pennsylvania. That number jumped to 81 reported cases in 2018 alone. The Centers for Disease Control reported a national increase of hepatitis-A cases with more than 2,500 new diagnoses reported from January 2017 to April 2018. According to the CDC, nearly 10 percent of new hepatitis-A infections in the United States are among men who have sex with men (MSM).

Jack Harrison-Quintana, director of Grindr for Equality, the dating app’s initiative focused on LGBTQ health and human rights, said the “Taste of Peaches” campaign will address other aspects of LGBTQ health, aside from HIV prevention and treatment.

“In the U.S., Grindr for Equality does a lot of work focused on health. Our goal is being committed to the fact that LGBT health is more than just HIV,” Harrison-Quintana said. “We’ll be placing pro-bono ads in the app to make sure that Grindr users are among the folks who will hear about the campaign and participate, if it’s right for them.”

Grindr, which has more than 3.8 million active users from every country, has collaborated with Bradbury-Sullivan on the center’s “Non-Judgy” free HIV/STI testing program.

“We use our reach in local communities to provide free ads that let folks in the area know where they can get tested for free. As long as users open the app, they’ll be able to see where they can get tested in their area,” Harrison-Quintana said.

The CDC reported in 2012 that only 30 percent of gay and bisexual men have been vaccinated for hepatitis-A. Shanker mentioned a knowledge gap within the LGBT community regarding how the virus spreads and the availability of the hepatitis-A vaccine.

“Today, we have better access to LGBT-health information, but it doesn’t preclude us from needing continued knowledge about current health challenges,” he said. “Bradbury-Sullivan tries to be on the frontline to make sure that our community has that knowledge and we do this through health-promotions campaigns like ‘Taste of Peaches’.” 

For more information on the “Taste of Peaches” campaign, visit www.bradburysullivancenter.org/tasteofpeaches.


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