What are the vaccines available in Singapore that can help prevent STIs?
Are there any vaccines I should consider getting to protect myself from STIs?
That is a great question and I always counsel my patients who come for a sexual health check on the importance of considering vaccinations if they need them. Vaccines are available for the following infections, which can be sexually transmitted:
1. Hepatitis A
- If you practice rimming (oral-anal sex), there is a chance of contracting Hepatitis A which causes liver inflammation. Most health screening packages will let you know through a blood test if you are already immune to Hepatitis A or require vaccination.
2. Hepatitis B
- This is another infection which can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. A blood test will let you know if you require vaccination, which is a series of 3 injections over 6 months.
3. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine
- The HPV virus is spread through skin contact during sexual intercourse and it is estimated that one in ten women in Singapore have HPV infection. It can infect both males and females and has the potential to cause serious disease including cancer. The low risk subtypes of HPV cause common infections like viral warts and genital warts. The high risk (oncogenic subtypes) are responsible for responsible for cervical, anal, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
- Gardasil 4 and Gardasil 9 are the vaccines that protect against both the high and low risk subtypes of HPV. They are licensed for use in males and females age 9-26, but if you aged above 26, you can still discuss with your doctor about receiving the vaccination.
-Ideally, the HPV vaccine should be taken before you are sexually active in order to get the most protection from the vaccine.
-The vaccine is given in a series of 3 injections over 6 months and is known to be a safe and well tolerated vaccine
I hope you find this information useful!
Sexual Health Specialist
The only vaccine available in Singapore to help prevent a form of STI is the Cervical cancer vaccine. It protects you from certain strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which can be transmitted sexually. Most HPV strains do not cause any symptoms and go away on their own.
However, there are certain strains that cause cervical cancer in women. Besides that, certain strains can also cause less common cancers in both men and women such as cancer of the anus, penis, vagina or vulva and oropharynx. Moreover, some strains can cause warts in the genital area of men and women.
It is important to note that the vaccines are designed to only cover certain strains (not all) which cause cancers and warts. There are different versions of this vaccine with the latest called Gardasil 9 which protects you from 9 different strains of HPV. The other versions are called Gardasil 4 which protects you against 4 different strains and Cevarix which only protects you against 2 strains.
In Singapore, females aged 9 to 26-year-old can use their Medisave to subsidise the Cevarix and Gardasil 4 vaccinations. Although these vaccines were approved for males and females between the ages of 9 and 26, patients older than 26 may still consider getting it but it is best to discuss this with the doctor to find out if you are suitable for it.