A new study shows that receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine does not encourage sexual activity in girls.
There are two versions of a vaccination against the sexually transmitted HPV and they’re recommended for all girls aged 11-12, but less than half of those that should receive it have done so.
A suspected reason for the lack of HPV vaccinations is concern that being protected against an STD may encourage risky sexual behavior, but a new study by Kaiser Permanente and Emory University shows that not to be the case.
The study, MSN reports, followed girls who were age 11 or 12 (in 2006-07) until 2010 and found no significant difference in STD infection or pregnancies between the 500 girls who received the HPV vaccine, and 900 others who received other recommended vaccines, but not HPV.
“We’re hopeful that once physicians see this, it will give them evidence that they can give to parents,” lead study author Robert A. Bednarczyk told the New York Times. “Hopefully when parents see this, it’ll be reassuring to them and we can start to overcome this barrier.”
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States, infecting nearly a third of children ages 14-19, but a Yale study showed concerns about sexual promiscuity were the main reason many parents chose not to give their children the HPV vaccine. The new study shows those concerns to be unfounded.
The HPV vaccines — Gardasil and Cervarix — are recommended for girls aged 13 through 26. Gardasil also prevents genital warts and is recommended for males aged 11 through 21 as well.
The study appeared online October 15 and will be published in the November print issue of Pediatrics.