HPV vaccination not associated with increased sexual activity among girls, new study says

October 15, 2012, Kaiser Permanente

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine known as Gardasil is not associated with an increase in pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, or contraceptive counseling, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published online today in the journal Pediatrics.

Since 2006, the has recommended that girls ages 11 receive three doses of the to protect them from HPV, which is transmitted through sexual activity and can cause and cervical, penile, vaginal, and head and neck cancers. The vaccine is also recommended for females ages 13 who did not receive the vaccine when they were younger, and for males ages 11.

But the vaccine has been slow to catch on. By 2010, fewer than half of girls eligible for had received even one dose. Since the introduction of Gardasil, there have been concerns—raised both in peer-reviewed literature and the popular media—that use of the vaccine might lead to increased sexual activity, due in part to the mistaken belief that Gardasil protects against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases other than HPV. This new study, which was an independent research project funded by Kaiser Permanente and Emory University, shows there is no evidence to support these concerns.

"Our study found a very similar rate of testing, diagnosis and counseling among girls who received the vaccine and girls who did not," said Robert Bednarczyk, PhD, an and the study's lead author. "We saw no increase in pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections or birth control counseling – all of which suggest the does not have an impact on increased ."

Bednarczyk is a clinical investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research–Southeast in Atlanta, and an epidemiologist with the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.

"This is reassuring news for teenagers, parents, and members of the public. Our study adds to growing evidence that the HPV vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent these rare but sometimes deadly cancers," added Robert Davis, MD, MPH, a co-author and senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research–Southeast.

The study included 1,398 girls ages 11 who were members of the Kaiser Permanente health plan in Georgia in 2006 and 2007, during the first 18 months after the Gardasil vaccine became available. Of this group, 493 girls received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine during the study period. The comparison group included 905 girls who received other recommended vaccines but not the HPV vaccine. Researchers followed both groups of girls for up to three years to assess whether they had been tested for or diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), had taken a pregnancy test, and had been counseled about contraceptives.

About 10 percent of the girls in the study, both those who received the vaccine and those who did not, had one or more of these outcomes. The average age of testing, diagnosis, or counseling was about 14.5. Only eight girls, or less than 1 percent, were diagnosed with an STI or had a positive pregnancy test. Girls who received the HPV vaccine did not have a statistically higher rate of testing, diagnosis, or counseling compared to those who did not receive the vaccine.

This study is part of Kaiser Permanente's ongoing research to understand the safety and efficacy of Gardasil. In another study, published earlier this month in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Kaiser Permanente researchers confirmed the safety of the vaccine among nearly 200,000 young girls. Earlier this year in the Journal of Women's Health, Kaiser Permanente researchers reported that younger are more likely than women to report pain and other non-serious side effects after receiving Gardasil vaccine.

Explore further: Young girls more likely to report side effects after HPV vaccine

Related Stories

Young girls more likely to report side effects after HPV vaccine

April 3, 2012
Younger girls are more likely than adult women to report side effects after receiving Gardasil, the human papillomavirus vaccine. The side effects are non-serious and similar to those associated with other vaccines, according ...

HPV vaccination does not lead to an increase in sex

October 10, 2012
A study published in Vaccine reveals that contrary to recent discussions, the HPV vaccination does not increase sexual activity in adolescent girls.

Study shows girls believe HPV vaccine protects from other STDs

January 6, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine shows that almost a quarter of girls surveyed believe that the HPV vaccine will also help prevent other STDs. This new information ...

Early evidence of HPV vaccine impact

June 20, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- In a new study published in Lancet, researchers from Australia report evidence that the vaccine designed to target the human papillomavirus, or HPV, has dramatically dropped the incidence of lesions in Australian ...

Too few girls get HPV vaccine against cancer: CDC

August 30, 2012
(HealthDay)—Parents and doctors can do more to protect girls from cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), say U.S. health officials who are concerned by lagging HPV vaccination rates among females.

Recommended for you

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

NeuroNext biomarker study explores natural history of infantile-onset SMA

January 9, 2018
Research led by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to define the natural history of infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) has been "critical" to accelerate the development of effective therapies and hasten ...

No link between childhood lead levels, later criminality

December 27, 2017
(HealthDay)— Exposure to higher levels of lead during early childhood can affect neurological development—but does that mean affected kids are doomed to delinquency?

Early puberty in girls may take mental health toll

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—A girl who gets her first menstrual period early in life—possibly as young as 7—has a greater risk for developing depression and antisocial behaviors that last at least into her 20s, a new study suggests.

Technology not taking over children's lives despite screen-time increase

December 21, 2017
With children spending increasing amounts of time on screen-based devices, there is a common perception that technology is taking over their lives, to the detriment and exclusion of other activities. However, new Oxford University ...

Higher blood sugar in early pregnancy raises baby's heart-defect risk

December 15, 2017
Higher blood sugar early in pregnancy raises the baby's risk of a congenital heart defect, even among mothers who do not have diabetes, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.