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HPV Vaccine does not Encourage Risky Sex

Update Date: Feb 03, 2014 11:14 AM EST

A recent study is reporting that children and teenagers who receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine are not any more likely to engage in risky sex in comparison to those who did not get vaccinated.

The HPV vaccine protects girls from some strains of the virus that could cause cervical cancer. Since HPV is transmitted via sexual acts, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends boy and girls to get vaccinated starting at the age of 11. Due to the early vaccination age, parents have worried that the vaccine exposes children to sex at a young age, which might promote risky sexual behaviors.

In this study, the researchers examined the veracity behind the idea that the HPV vaccine encourages risky sex, which the researchers defined as having unprotected sex and a relatively high number of sexual partners. The team surveyed 339 girls between the ages of 13 and 21 who were about to receive their first HPV vaccine, which a 3-part vaccine. The participants were mostly black and came from low-income families.

The survey asked the girls about their beliefs and attitudes when it comes to safe sex and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The team continued to ask the girls about their sexual behaviors and any changes when they came back for their second and third shots. The team found that girls who were vaccinated did not have a higher chance of engaging in risky sex. The vaccinated participants had a good idea in regards to the risks involved with unprotected sex and a good portion of the girls knew that the HPV vaccine does not protect them from other STIs.

"There are so many contributing factors to whether an adolescent decides to have sex or not, and whether they decide to limit their number of partners or use condoms," said Dr. Jessica Kahn. "Getting a vaccine probably just plays a very, very small role in their decisions."

Kahn added, according to Reuters, "To me, the issue is laid to rest. As clinicians and researchers, we have no concerns that vaccination will lead to riskier sexual behaviors."

The study was published in Pediatrics.

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