Canadian researchers are unable to find evidence that the HPV vaccine has any impact on the sexual behavior of teen girls. The findings stem from Ontario-based research that represents the largest study on the link between the HPV vaccine and sexual behavior.
“These findings suggest that fears of increased risky sexual behavior following HPV vaccination are unwarranted and should not be a barrier to vaccinating at a young age,” researchers wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
One argument from those against HPV vaccination is that it may give teenagers a false sense of invincibility when it comes to their sexual health. This includes fears that teens who get vaccinated are more likely to participate in risky sexual behaviors.
For the study, researchers followed roughly 128,000 girls who were eligible for the vaccine through an Ontario program that offered it to all eighth graders during the 2007-2008 school year. Roughly half received all three doses of the vaccine. Of all the eligible girls included in the study, approximately 6 percent went on to become pregnant or contract an STD other than HPV. Most notably, this number was similar among girls who were ineligible for the vaccine.
Researchers say that the sexual behavior of girls aged 14 to 17 did not appear to be influenced by whether or not they were vaccinated.
The vaccine offers protection against four different types of HPV (human papillomavirus) that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and most genital warts. Medical professionals say that the best way to get the vaccine’s full benefits is to receive all three doses before beginning sexual activity.
In the United States last year, just 37 percent of girls between the ages of 13 and 17 received all three doses of the HPV vaccine, reports the Wall Street Journal.