A one-of-a-kind study has parents feeling a little less anxious about their teenage daughters’ sexual habits. Pediatricians like Julius Goepp, MD, think getting an HPV shot couldn’t hurt.
By Kevin Hewston
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations do not give girls what some parents call a “license to have sex.” In fact, a recent study shows the opposite. Preteen girls who get HPV vaccines aren’t likely to seek counsel for possible sexual escapades during their teenage years. But that’s because most aren’t doing anything. A majority of the girls did not get pregnant or even have STDs.
The research concluded HPV-vaccinated girls did not engage in sexual activity any more than their non-vaccinated peers. Over ninety percent of those examined simply did not exhibit identifying sexual “markers.” They did not get pregnant, have STDs, or otherwise need those types of tests or birth control counseling. Only two girls in the HPV-vaccinated survey pool became pregnant, and only one contracted chlamydia—compared to three HPV vaccine-unexposed girls. This is the first-ever survey that’s sound in its approach, using actual, concrete numbers to analyze girls’ so-called promiscuity.
“The study is the first to use medical outcomes data to examine consequences of HPV vaccination and the results are “comforting and reassuring,” said lead author Robert Bednarczyk in the San Jose Mercury. He’s a researcher for Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research-Southeast located in Atlanta, Ga. He also conducts research at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta, Ga.
Specifically, analysts examined records of 1,398 girls aged 11 and 12 years old over three years. That number included HPV-vaccinated girls at those ages and girls who received other vaccines. What researchers found was that there were virtually no differences between girls who got the HPV vaccine and those who did not. In other words, whether a girl got the HPV vaccine or not did not affect her chances of engaging in sexual activity after inoculation. Their chances, based on medical records, were equally low—under one percent.
A similar study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January, seemed to suggest that older girls aged 15 to 24 would not likely have sex just because they were vaccinated. But that study was ineffective and untrustworthy; girls had the option to self-disclose. The latest study, however, unequivocally makes certain that girls are not likely to engage in risky sexual behavior after vaccination.
Julius Goepp, MD, an expert in pediatric infectious diseases, with long experience in the healthcare of the challenging adolescent population, notes, “The HPV vaccine is the only true cancer vaccine we have available today. It is known to be highly effective. This study proves what any thoughtful individual would have predicted, namely that giving a vaccine has zero impact on a young woman’s sexual decision-making. People don’t seek out opportunities to get influenza after they get a flu shot, so there’s no reason to think that a girl at the cusp of adolescence will use this vaccine as license to indulge in unsafe sexual behavior. In fact, responsible parents can use the doctor visit for the HPV vaccine as a golden opportunity to have an open discussion with their daughters and the doctor or nurse practitioner. We know that supportive parents who talk to their adolescent children about sex can have more impact than any number of PR campaigns. I would urge parents to get this potentially life-saving vaccine, and, instead of resisting it, to use the opportunity to start (or better, continue) a meaningful dialogue with their children.”
Julius Goepp, MD, is a medical professional. He writes articles on healthcare, nutrition, wellness, and lifestyle.