Females who engage in sex work (FSW) are at high risk of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and are eligible for HBV vaccination. The objective of this analysis was to explore coverage, uptake and correlates of HBV vaccination among FSW who attend sexual health services (SHS) in England.
Data on all attendances at SHS in England were obtained from the GUMCAD STI Surveillance System. Attendees were eligible for inclusion if they were female, had not been previously diagnosed with HIV and sex work was recorded between 2015 and 2019. Bivariable and multivariable logistic regression models were used to investigate sociodemographic factors (age, ethnicity, region of birth and region of residence) associated with having received an HBV vaccination on or after an attendance where sex work was reported.
There were 13 769 FSW attending SHS in England between 2015 and 2019 (median age 30 years, 71% white ethnicity). HBV vaccination coverage was 37% (n=5050/13 751, 95% CI 35.9%–37.5%). Among those that first reported sex work between 2015 and 2019, HBV vaccination uptake was 30% (n=3249/10 681, 95% CI 29.6%–31.3%). In multivariable analyses, HBV vaccination uptake was associated with younger age (5-year increase: OR=0.87, 95% CI 0.85, 0.89) and being born in South America (37%, adjusted OR (aOR)=1.40, 95% CI 1.18, 1.66) compared with being born in the UK. Being of Asian ethnicity (19%, aOR=0.63, 95% CI 0.45, 0.89) compared with white ethnicity was associated with reduced odds of HBV vaccination. Sixteen FSW were diagnosed with HBV after their first attendance where sex work was recorded.
To achieve the WHO goals of elimination of HBV as a public health threat by the year 2030, further research is needed to understand the individual and structural barriers to the offering and uptake of HBV vaccination among FSW, as well as using health promotion methods to improve uptake.