Background Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) are at higher risk for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and HPV-associated anogenital warts and cancers. In the province of Ontario, a publicly-funded program was introduced in 09/2016 to provide the HPV vaccine at no cost to young gbMSM (≤26 years). We examined men’s experiences with the HPV vaccine.
Methods #iCruise was an Ontario-wide study of gbMSM seeking sexual health information online. Men were recruited through websites and socio-sexual apps from 07/2017-01/2018. Men self-completed online questionnaires including items on HPV awareness and vaccination. We compared younger (≤26) to older (≥26) men using Pearson’s chi-square tests and identified correlates of vaccination and willingness to get vaccinated using Poisson regression; results are reported as age-adjusted prevalence ratios (PR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results 975 participants were aged 14–89 years (34.7% aged ≤26); most had heard of HPV (94.0%) and the vaccine (79.2%). More younger men (25.5%) versus older men (14.3%; p<0.001) had received 1+ doses. Vaccine initiation was associated with age (≤26:PR=1.79;CI:1.02–1.14; p<0.001), being out to a doctor (PR=2.65;CI:1.88–3.75; p<0.001), living in Toronto (PR=1.53;CI:1.18–2.00; p<0.001 compared to elsewhere), identifying as gay (PR=2.46;CI:1.45–4.16; p=0.001) and having more than a high school education (PR=1.74;CI:1.09–2.78; p=0.019). Vaccine initiation was not associated with ethnicity, income, or having an HIV/STI test in the past year. Most men were willing to get the vaccine if it were free (79.6%) but fewer (9.4%) were willing if they had to pay out-of-pocket costs.
Conclusion Approximately one year since launching the publicly-funded program, more younger than older men had received it, reflecting vaccine availability at no cost. Nevertheless, 75% of younger men were not yet vaccinated, suggesting a need for improved awareness of the public program among patients and providers alike, and ensuring accessibility in non-stigmatizing and welcoming healthcare environments.
Disclosure No significant relationships.
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