A new study confirms earlier evidence that the HPV vaccine does not make girls more likely to have sex. The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, will hopefully help to quell critics who fear the vaccine makes teenagers more promiscuous. I’m so glad science can refute the logic that vaccinating girls against a cancer-causing virus will cause them to have sex, because that logic is faulty and ultimately, damaging to public health.
Researchers looked at the medical records of almost 1,400 girls who were between the ages 11 and 12 from 2006 to 2007 (the year after the vaccine was approved). About 500 girls had received the vaccine and about 900 had not. Data showed that vaccination was not linked to any increase in sexual activity.
Gypsyamber D’Souza of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said:
“This article supports what several years of data have shown again and again. There are no differences in sexual behavior in those getting the vaccine compared those who have not.”
Still, public health officials say that the HPV vaccine, while almost universally recommended for teenage girls, has one of the lowest rates of actual vaccination. Up to 40% of parents have moral or ethical concerns about the vaccine, and cost can be a prohibitive factor for women in their twenties.
Hopefully this new information, added to the fact that the HPV vaccine offers valuable herd protection, will encourage reluctant people to have their children (or themselves) vaccinated. After all, over 50% of sexually-active people in the US will be infected with the human papillomavirus in their lifetime; keep in mind that this is the virus that can cause anal cancer, cervical cancer and other serious conditions.
Photo: Courtesty fo Flickr user stevendepolo