Study finds HPV vaccine has no effect on teen female sexual activity

Queen’s University researchers said their research indicates that the sexual behavior of teen girls is not impacted by the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine.

Drs. Leah Smith and Linda Lévesque recently published their findings in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, in which the authors said the vaccine, which guards against four types of HPV known to cause cervical cancer and anogenital warts, does not appear to give women a false sense of security about contracting sexually transmitted diseases because there were no any changes in the sexual activity of those who are vaccinated.

"These findings suggest fears of increased risky sexual behavior following HPV vaccination are unwarranted and should not be a barrier to vaccinating at a young age," Smith, the lead author on the study, said.

The study looked at 260,493 girls, and of those, nearly half (128,712) were eligible for Ontario's publicly funded, school-based HPV vaccination program during the first two school years it was offered during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years. The researchers followed the girls until March 31 of their senior year, at which time about 6 percent of girls became pregnant or contracted an STD between grades 10 and 12 -- 10,187 pregnancies and 6,259 cases of non-HPV-related STDs. The duo used a quasi-experimental method, regression discontinuity, to estimate, through outcome risk difference and relative risk, the number of girls who would've been pregnant or would've contracted an STD if the sample of girls had not been vaccinated.

"Neither HPV vaccination nor program eligibility increased the risk of pregnancy nor non-HPV-related STIs among females ages 14-17 years," Lévesque, the senior author of the study, said. "The results of this study can be used by physicians, public-health providers and policy-makers to address public and parental concerns about HPV vaccination and promiscuity."

The HPV vaccine has been licensed in nearly 100 countries, including Canada, since 2006.

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