MONDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Young girls who receive a
vaccine to protect against the virus that causes cervical cancer do
not become sexually promiscuous after the shot, new research
Two versions of a vaccination against the sexually transmitted
human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical and some other
forms of cancer, are available and recommended to all girls aged 11
But less than half of girls eligible for the shot have received
it, apparently due in part to concerns that it might encourage
This study goes beyond girls' own reports that the vaccination
would not alter their sexual behavior, instead using medical
records to examine the connection.
The study followed the girls from age 11 or 12 (in 2006-2007) to
the end of 2010, which provided three years of follow-up data.
"We're hoping that this will offer some validation to what we've seen in the past, where girls and young women have indicated that they wouldn't change their sexual behaviors if they got the vaccine," said Robert Bednarczyk, lead author of a study appearing in online Oct. 15 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics.
Bednarczyk is a clinical investigator with Kaiser Permanente
Center for Health Research Southeast and an epidemiologist with the
Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta.
Kaiser Permanente and Emory University funded the study.
Dr. Joanne Mortimer, director of the Women's Cancer Program at
City of Hope in Duarte, Calif., said this study should put "to rest
any concerns that kids who know they've been vaccinated are safer
[from the virus] and can have more sex."
Mortimer was not involved with the study.
The HPV vaccines -- Gardasil and Cervarix -- are also
recommended for girls and young women aged 13 through 26. Gardasil,
which also prevents genital warts, is recommended for males aged 11
through 21 as well.
The vaccine is "terrifically important," Mortimer said, because
it has the potential to eradicate cervical cancer, if not cancers
of the anus and certain cancers of the head and neck, which are
also caused by HPV.
The researchers gathered their information from the health
records of nearly 1,400 girls aged 11 through 12 enrolled in the
Kaiser Permanente health plan. About 500 of the girls had received
at least one dose of Gardasil and 900 had had other recommended
vaccines for their age group but not HPV.
There was no significant difference in infection with the
sexually transmitted disease chlamydia, pregnancy or counseling for
birth control between the two groups, suggesting that receiving the
HPV vaccine did not change sexual behavior.
The findings indicate that sexual activity may not start any
earlier among girls who got the vaccine, the study stated.
The authors did not have any information on rates of gonorrhea
infection but, typically, gonorrhea infections occur with chlamydia
infections so there was no reason to look at them separately,
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Preventionhas more on HPV vaccines.
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