Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Adolescent girls who received HPV vaccinations in a publicly-funded program at school didn't engage in increased sexual behaviors, according to a study in Canada.
The findings, which were published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, run contrary to concern the human papillomavirus vaccination would lead to risky sexual behaviors, including early and unprotected sex.
"The HPV vaccine has proved to be a remarkably effective and safe vaccine," Dr. Gina Ogilvie, a researcher at the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, said in a press release. "However, parents have expressed concern that the use of the HPV vaccine might promote or condone risky sexual behavior in adolescents."
Human papillomavirus is the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infection in the world.
In the United States, about one in four people are currently infected and a total of 14 million people, including teens, are infected with HPV each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC recommends all boys and girls 11 or 12 get two shots of HPV vaccine six to 12 months apart. Adolescents who receive two shots less than five months apart will require a third dose of HPV vaccine.
The Vaccines for Children program provides vaccines for children ages 18 years and younger who are uninsured, Medicaid-eligible or American American Indian/Alaska Native.
Since 2008, British Columbia's government has funded the vaccination program for girls in grade 6. Until 2011, it was also available for girls in grades 6 through 9.
Data was analyzed from the BC Adolescent Health Survey of students in grades 7 to 12 every five years by the McCreary Centre Society. Studied were 298,265 girls enrolled in public schools across the province.
Girls who reported ever having sex decreased from 21.3 percent in 2003 to 20.6 percent in 2008 and to 18.3 percent in 2013.
In addition, the percentage of girls having intercourse before age 14 declined from 14.3 percent in 2008 to 10.2 percent in 2013.
Also, the use of condoms increased from 65.6 percent in 2003 to 68.9 percent in 2013.
There was no significant change in three of more partners reported and pregnant rates decreased decreased by 42 percent from 2003 to 2013
"Our analyses of data from this province-wide survey suggests that implementing a school-based program for HPV vaccination did not lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviors among adolescent girls at the population level," said study co-author Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, of the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia. "These findings should help allay any parent or provider fears that participating in HPV vaccination might increase sexual behaviors among teenaged girls."