Saturday, February 13, 2016

The HPV vaccine isn't a "license for teen sex"

Now, a new study from the Kaiser Permanent Center for Health Research-Southeast says girls who receive the HPV vaccine aren't more sexually active -- at least in the first three years after their shots. Researchers tracked 1,398 girls for 3 years starting at age 11 or 12; 493 had received the HPV vaccine and 905 did not.

The HPV vaccine isn’t a “license for teen sex”

0 comments
The researchers note that teen sexual activity carries a high risk for HPV infection -- an argument in favor of saying yes to the vaccine. One in three sexually-active 14- to 19-year-olds is infected with at least one HPV strain and 12% carry one of the four strains most likely to cause cervical cancer if a girl’s immune system doesn’t wipe it out. A good reason to say yes to this vaccine. And to the opportunity for a frank talk about sex. (AP Photo)
The researchers note that teen sexual activity carries a high risk for HPV infection -- an argument in favor of saying yes to the vaccine. One in three sexually-active 14- to 19-year-olds is infected with at least one HPV strain and 12% carry one of the four strains most likely to cause cervical cancer if a girl’s immune system doesn’t wipe it out. A good reason to say yes to this vaccine. And to the opportunity for a frank talk about sex. (AP Photo) AP Photo

Even the most pro-vaccine parent-- like me -- stops and wonders when the pediatrician asks about the HPV vaccine for a preteen or barely teen-aged daughter. The vaccine’s benefits are clear and compelling; it’s proven to cut risk for a lingering infection with human papilloma virus strains most likely to cause cervical cancer. But in explaining the vaccine to your child, even if you use it as another chance to talk about values and expectations and physical and emotional health, are you still crossing a line -- and subtly saying “OK, the truth is I know you’re going to be sexually active sooner rather than later and it’s OK by me”?

Now, a new study from the Kaiser Permanent Center for Health Research-Southeast says girls who receive the HPV vaccine aren’t more sexually active -- at least in the first three years after their shots. Researchers tracked 1,398 girls for 3 years starting at age 11 or 12; 493 had received the HPV vaccine and 905 did not. They didn’t directly ask the girls about sexually activity. Instead, they looked at how many in each group came back to their doctor’s office within three years with a medical need that was a sign of sexual activity -- like a request for birth control, for a pregnancy test or for a check for a sexually-transmitted disease like chlamydia.

The result: The researchers conclude that the HPV vaccine wasn’t a “license for early sex.” Nearly equal numbers of girls in each group came in with health needs related to sex. The numbers aren’t exactly equal, however. The girls in the HPV vaccine group were slightly more likely to ask about birth control, chlamydia checks or pregnancy testing. But their chances for actually having chlamydia or being pregnant were nearly equal to those of the non-vaccinated girls -- in fact, they were a tiny, tiny bit lower. The researchers say the differences in numbers are so small that they’re insignificant -- and show that HPV-vaccinated girls are no more likely to be sexually active early.  “In our analysis,HPV vaccination at ages 11 through12 did not increase the likelihood ofseeking medical attention for outcomesrelated to sexual activity with upto 3 years of follow-up,” they soberly state.

That doesn’t mean parents can skip conversations about sex when it’s time for this vaccine. While sex among 15- 17-year olds is down (from 39% in 1995 to 27% in 2010), that still means one in four girls is sexually active by the time she’s a high school junior or senior. And 3% have sex before age 13. It’s also smart to tell your daughter that the HPV vaccine doesn’t protect her against other sexually-transmitted diseases. About one in four young women mistakenly believe it does.

More coverage

The researchers note that teen sexual activity carries a high risk for HPV infection -- an argument in favor of saying yes to the vaccine. One in three sexually-active 14- to 19-year-olds is infected with at least one HPV strain and 12% carry one of the four strains most likely to cause cervical cancer if a girl’s immune system doesn’t wipe it out. A good reason to say yes to this vaccine. And to the opportunity for a frank talk about sex.

0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Sarah Levin Allen, Ph.D., CBIS Assistant Professor of Psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAAAI, FACAAI Associate Professor of Medicine in division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at UC Davis
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist of The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Gary A. Emmett, M.D., F.A.A.P Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Magee DeFelice, M.D. Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Chief of Pediatric Emergency Services at Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Adolescent Medicine Specialist at Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Registered Dietitian at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Emiliano Tatar, M.D. Pediatrician at Einstein Healthcare Network Roxborough Plaza
Jeanette Trella, Pharm.D Managing Director at The Poison Control Center at CHOP
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D., ABPP Director of Integrated Health Care for American Psychological Association
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D. Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
Latest Videos
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter