Around the time we had our daughter vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), not long after the 2006 recommendation that all girls ages 11-12 receive it, there was some worry that inoculating our girls against a sexually transmitted pathogen might give them license to become sexually promiscuous.
According to a new study, those concerns were all for naught.
Research published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics looked at medical records for 1,398 girls enrolled in Kaiser Permanente health insurance in Georgia who had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12 in 2006 and 2007, tracking their data for three years after they received that shot.
They found no substantial difference in indicators of sexual activity between the 493 girls who had received the vaccination and the 905 who had not.
The researchers looked for records regarding pregnancy, diagnosis of sexually transmitted infection and counseling about contraception and found virtually no difference between the two groups.
The study focused on young girls because older girls might have sought the vaccine because they were already sexually active. The researchers acknowledge that girls as young as 11 and 12 might not be making their own decisions about getting vaccines.
The authors cite earlier research finding that girls reported getting vaccinated against HPV would not incline them to early sexual activity. But it’s not been clear how that played out in real life. So now we know.
HPV infection is considered a leading cause of cervical cancer.