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Study indicates HPV vaccine is not linked to increased sexual activity among girls

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

A new study conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research showed that receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is not linked to sexual promiscuity among girls.

The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at 1,398 11-year-old girls from Georgia over the course of three years who were part of the Kaiser Permamente Health Plan in 2006 and 2007. Of the test group, 493 received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine Gardisil, while the other 905 girls did not. The study looked for indicators of sexual activity, such as testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI), taking a pregnancy test or receiving counseling for birth control.

Only ten percent of the girls in both groups had to get tested, diagnosed or counseled and the results showed that there was no statistical difference between those who received the HPV vaccination and those who didn't.

An increased risk of sexual promiscuity "has been raised as a concern around HPV vaccination and invoked as a reason for not vaccinating, but has no support empirically, and is clinically and ethically wrong," Gregory Zimet, M.D. who studies peoples' perspectives on the vaccine, told USA Today.

The lead author of the study, Robert Bednarczyk, M.D., told the news source that past research has coincided with the report's results, but most of it relied on self-reported surveys by girls or their guardians. This was one of the first clinical investigations on the issue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cervical cancer, which is primarily caused by HPV, kills nearly 4,000 women a year. The source suggests that 11 and 12 year old girls, as well as adolescents and women from 13 to 26 years old who have not received a prior vaccination, take Gardasil, which was licensed by the FDA in 2006. Males can also take Gardasil to defend against certain kinds of genital warts.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that HPV is the most common STI in the United States and that more than 50 percent of people have contracted at least one type of HPV throughout the course their lives. HPV is detected via cell testing, while other STDs can detected with a blood test.

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