HPV vaccine not set on

The human papillomavirus vaccine is not linked to promiscuous or riskier sexual activity among young people. On the contrary, a British study found that young women who received the HPV shot had safer sex. “To my knowledge no studies have shown that HPV vaccination increases risky sexual behavior among young women and some of these studies have shown this (less risky behavior) is also the case outside of the UK,” study leader Dr. Laura Sadler of the University of Manchester said. Sadler wrote in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care that vaccination may lead to improved sexual health education, or that young women who already engage in less risky sexual practices are the ones getting vaccinated. “One explanation for the findings is that girls who are vaccinated receive education about sexual health and prevention which decreases riskier behaviors,” professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Dr. Jessica Kahn opined.

Public health authorities recommend that girls and young women be immunized against HPV – a highly common STI and major risk factor for cervical cancer – but some parents are paranoid that it could promote sexual activity or lead to unsafe sex. And while the results of the study prove that the HPV vaccine does not lead to riskier sex, it does not show that vaccination causes less risky sex. Preventive health behaviors tend to cluster, so it makes sense that girls who practice safer behaviors are more likely to be vaccinated. According to Khan, the fact that “preventive health behaviors tend to cluster, so it makes sense that girls who practice safer behaviors are more likely to be vaccinated,” could explain the findings. Sadler and team reviewed and compare the medical records and history of behavior of more than 360 women who were born in 1990 or later and attended an English clinic, about two-thirds of which had received at least one dose of the three vaccination course. Behaviors that were risky in and of themselves or considered to be related to risky sexual practices included not using condoms, having sexual relations for the first time at age 15 or younger, having 6 or more sexual partners, and drinking alcohol 2 or more times per week.

Vaccinated women were more likely to engage in less-risky behaviors. “In this study, the lower prevalence of some risk outcomes among vaccinated women relative to unvaccinated women may be related to underlying differences in preventive care seeking and preventive health behaviors,” assistant professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University Robert A. Bednarczyk, who was not involved in the study, said. “The women in our study were mainly from the catch-up vaccine program - older teens - and as in the other studies, it shows that among this group, vaccination was taken up by those demonstrating other types of preventive or less risky behaviors,” Sadler told Reuters. On the other hand, unvaccinated women were more likely to have had 3 sexual partners in the previous 6 months, have attended the clinic with symptoms of an STD, to have had anal sex with their last partner, and to have tested positive for Chlamydia. So next time you’re out cruising, you might want to ask girls about their vaccination history. Just sayin’.