Thursday, December 11, 2014

HPV vaccine does not lead to riskier sexual activity

A frequently made, but fallacious argument, against many forms of birth control holds that providing it enables riskier sexual activity. A similar suggestion has been raised in recent years about the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine and its potential impacts on risky sexual activity. 

Doctors Linda Smith and Linda Levesque of Queen's University studied the correlation between the HPV vaccine and certain sexual behaviors; the results were recently published in Canadian Medical Association Journal. The HPV vaccine, the (disproved) argument goes, "may give girls a false sense of security about contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and lead them to engage in riskier sexual activity."

Nevermind that HPV is itself an STI, and one that can cause genital warts and cervical cancer, at that. Much like a previous blog post I made summarizing the results of flu vaccination in a county, this study saw the vaccination of 260,493 girls in the Ontario public school system. Ontario has a state-funded free HPV vaccination program available to all female residents. 

Briefly, the study found no correlation between receiving the HPV vaccine and a higher probability of pregnancy or contracting any sexually transmitted disease. 

-Shubha Raghvendra

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