Whether or Not the HPV Vaccine Makes Girls More Promiscuous (It Doesn’t), Isn’t Premarital Sex Better Than Cancer?

10/15/2012 10:45 AM |


A new study published today in the journal Pediatrics reinforces earlier CDC studies’ findings that giving girls as young as 11 an HPV vaccine doesn’t lead to an increase in sexual behavior:

A new study shoots big holes in one of the major criticisms of the HPV vaccine, by showing that young girls don’t become more promiscuous after getting shots to protect against the sexually transmitted disease. The study published today in the journal Pediatrics found that girls who got HPV shots at age 11 or 12 were not more likely to seek out birth control, STD tests, or become pregnant than their counterparts who were unvaccinated. Unlike previous studies, this one examined those concrete outcomes, rather than just relying on girls to self-report their behavior.

Robert Bednarczyk, the lead author of the study, says it “really demonstrates that getting the HPV vaccination is not somehow a signal to start having unprotected sex.” [Atlantic Wire]

I’m not sure I’ve met the young person whose biggest concern about having unprotected sex is the possibility of HPV—I mean, pregnancy, HIV, social shunning?—but whatever, I’m glad now there is more evidence to support the vaccine. But even if getting the HPV vaccine did make girls more likely to become sexual, what kind of messed up parental priorities do you have to have that you’d rather let your daughter increase her risk of getting CANCER than give her “permission” to be sexual?

I guess you could argue that parents are concerned about the other possible outcomes of unprotected sex, like HIV and pregnancy, but the study looked to see if they were seeking out birth control, which would indicate that parents are concerned about any sexual activity, not just unprotected sex. And according to this Times article:

In one study of parental attitudes toward the vaccine, Yale researchers found that concern about promiscuity was the single biggest factor in the decision not to vaccinate. [NYT]

I’m not sure what to say to parents who think their ideas of sexual morality trumps their kids’ health. We’ve got some weird ideas about sex around here.