A new study is challenging the notion that the HPV vaccine might encourage more promiscuous activity.
British researchers who studied 1,052 teen girls in the U.K. found that those who had been offered the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine were no more likely to be sexually active than those who had not yet been offered it.
Researchers said the findings, published in the journal Vaccine, suggest the HPV shot does not give girls a “green light” to have sex because of a perceived protection against sexually transmitted infections.
For the study, researchers compared the experiences of two groups of girls — with a mean age of 17.1 years. The results showed the 148 who had received the HPV vaccine were no more likely to have changed their condom use or increased their total number of sexual partners than the 259 unvaccinated teens.
The girls were part of a larger group of girls — about half of whom were offered the vaccine and half were not.
Researchers said the results provide evidence that neither being offered the vaccine or receiving the vaccine has an effect on the sexual behavior of adolescent girls.
HPV is a common virus spread through sexual contact. Most of the time HPV has no symptoms so people do not know they have it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 40 types of genital HPV. Some can cause cervical cancer in women and can also cause other kinds of cancer in both men and women. Other types can cause genital warts in both males and females.
The HPV vaccine works by preventing the most common types of HPV that cause cervical cancer and genital warts. It is given as a three-dose vaccine over six months.
CDC recommends girls receive the HPV vaccination beginning at 11 or 12 years old. It is also recommended for girls and women age 13 through 26 years of age who have not yet been vaccinated or completed the vaccine series.
Two vaccines are available: They are bivalent vaccine (Cervarix) and quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil). Gardasil also prevents HPV types that cause most genital warts as well as cancers of the anus, vulva, and vagina.