HPV vaccine doesn't promote riskier sexual behavior in teens, study finds

Young women who got the HPV vaccine showed no changes in sexual behavior and did not change their opinions about safe sex or contracting sexually transmitted infections.

By Ananth Baliga

CINCINNATI, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Research has debunked parents' concerns that the HPV vaccine encourages risky sexual behavior in teens.

In addition, women who had not had sex when vaccinated were not more likely to start having sex post-vaccination, according to research coming out of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.


“We hope this study reassures parents, and thus improves HPV vaccination rates, which in turn will reduce rates of cervical and other cancers that can result from HPV infection,” said Jessica Kahn, MD, a physician at Cincinnati Children’s.

Researchers studied more than 300 completed questionnaires from sexually experienced and inexperienced teens and young women between the ages of 13 and 21. The questionnaire asked for participants knowledge and attitudes about the HPV vaccine, beliefs about the need for safer sexual behaviors after vaccination, and about their sexual behaviors.

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Participants were surveyed prior to vaccination, and given followup surveys two and six months after getting the vaccine. The responses showed that regardless of a teen's beliefs regarding the HPV vaccine, it showed no link to subsequent sexual behavior nor did they change their sexual behavior based on whether the vaccine did or did not decrease the risk of sexually transmitted infections.


The vast majority of girls seemed to believe that it was still important to practice safe sex and did not believe that the vaccine protected against STIs.

HPV is a common STI that affects 7.5 million girls and young women in the United States between the ages of 14 and 24. The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends HPV vaccination for teenage girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26.

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[Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center] [Pediatrics]

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