Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Study finds HPV vaccine does not make girls promiscuous

When the first human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine debuted in 2006, protestors argued that one of the reasons why parents should not let their teenage girls receive it was because it may advocate a more promiscuous lifestyle. This statement triggered debates between health officials, who were trying to promote the immunization as a way to prevent cervical cancer, and opposers. However, six years later, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found that girls who were vaccinated for HPV are no more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors than females who did not get the shot.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are more than 40 different strains of it, two of which are known to cause cervical cancer among women. However, the problem is that an infected individual typically does not experience symptoms until the cancer is advanced, which is why it's so important for sexually active women to receive annual Pap smears and STD screenings. 

Parents are still hesitant

Although relatively new, healthcare professionals only distribute the HPV vaccine to about half of adolescents. Researchers believe that this is due to non-supporting parents who think the shot will encourage their daughters to either become sexually active or engage in riskier behavior than they would without receiving the immunization.

"Parents can be reassured at least based on the evidence that young girls who receive HPV vaccines did not show increased signs (of) clinical outcomes of sexual activity," researcher Saad Omertold told Reuters Health.

The vaccine is not linked to pregnancy or STDs

Researchers from Emory University looked at the primary care records of nearly 1,400 girls who were either 11 or 12 years old. In the group, almost 500 received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine. They found that females who received the shot were no more likely to be given a pregnancy test or be screened for an STD, compared to those who did not get immunized.

"This is reassuring news for teenagers, parents and members of the public. Our study adds to growing evidence that the HPV vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent these rare but sometimes deadly cancers," said co-author Robert Davis.