Study: HPV vaccine does not encourage sexual activity

November 3, 2012
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Because Gardasil is designed to protect young people against human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted disease, some people believe the inoculation gives teens the go-ahead to have sex.

Researchers are finding that’s not the case.

HPV is known to be the cause of a number of illnesses, including mouth and throat cancer, genital warts and cervical cancer. Since 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that all girls aged 11 and 12 receive the HPV vaccine to protect themselves. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also advised that girls and boys at that age be given the shot to fight the virus strain.

But according to a new Kaiser Permanete/Emory University study published in this week’s edition of the journal Pediatrics, the vaccine has yet to be embraced by the general public. By 2010, fewer than half of girls eligible for the vaccine had received even one dose.

Investigators believe that may be in part because some people who oppose the vaccine wrongly believe that it also protects against pregnancy and other sexually transmitted diseases, which would open the door for pre-teens to engage in sexual activity at an early age.

The study finds that vaccinating children at ages 11 and 12 does not increase sexual activity in young girls. Researchers looked at the number of pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and contraceptive use in more than 1,300 pre-teen girls who received the vaccine.

Investigators followed them for three years and found no significant increase in any of these sexual activities.

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