Study Suggests HPV Vaccination Does Not Lead To An Increase In Sex

Does the HPV vaccine give the go ahead to young girls to have sex?  Some opponents of the vaccine believe it does in fact encourage sex, therefore causing concern.

They believe this because the HPV vaccine, which is said to protect girls and women from certain types of cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus is transmitted sexually.

Those against the vaccine have freaked some families, because they say that the HPV (Human papillomavirus) vaccination might give girls a perceived “green light”, telling them that now they have had the shot, the risk of becoming infected and subsequently developing cervical cancer has gone, so they need not be so careful about having sex.

But, according to researchers from Cancer Research UK, University College London, and reported in the journal Vaccine found that vaccinating teenage girls against HPV infection does not lead to greater sexual activity.

Alice S. Forstera, Laura A.V. Marlowa, Judith Stephensonb, Jane Wardlea, and Jo Wallera set out to determine whether the HPV vaccine had any impact on the sexual behavior of adolescent girls as a result of being offered or given the vaccination.

They gathered and examined data on a cross-section of more than 1,052 British girls, with an average age of 17.1 years. 433 of them had been offered the HPV vaccine, while the other 620 had not as of the study.

They found that the sexual behavior of the vaccinated girls was no different from that of the unvaccinated ones.

Of the 433 who had been offered the vaccine, 148 had taken it – none of them were less likely to use a condom after being vaccinated. Their total number of sexual partners was no different compared to the data found in the unvaccinated group.

The researchers say their evidence appears to show that vaccinating girls against HPV does not change their sexual behavior.

The CDC carried out a study in the USA and also found that HPV vaccines do not alter the sexual behavior of girls. Their findings were published in the December 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

A study published in 2009 actually asked girls what they thought of the vaccine, and nearly 80% of girls said that having the HPV vaccine made them think twice about the risks of having sex, according to a University of Manchester study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

The researchers questioned over 500 twelve and thirteen year olds who had been offered the vaccine in a study in Manchester before the vaccine was available nationally. Although 79 per cent of girls said the vaccine reminded them of the risks of sex, 14 per cent said they might take more sexual risks because of it.

Dr Loretta Brabin, study author based at the University’s School of Cancer and Imaging Sciences, said, “Interestingly, media suggestions that the vaccine could make girls more likely to start having sex at a younger age hadn’t affected them. In fact, the vaccine actually made them more aware of the risks of sex.”

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