Study: HPV Vaccine Doesn’t Cause Promiscuity

Contrary to religious right propaganda about impending orgies at the junior high school dance, a new study finds that teenage girls who get the vaccine to prevent HPV are not more likely to start having sex earlier or to have sex without condoms and other forms of birth control.

new study published in the journal Pediatrics finds that giving teens the HPV vaccine, a preventative measure against future cervical cancers, does not encourage them to change their sexual behavior. Specifically, getting vaccinated for HPV did not lead young women to become sexually active or engage in risky sex.

The HPV vaccine helps protect against the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted infection that can eventually lead to cervical cancer. After it was first introduced in 2006, HPV rates among teens were cut in half. Federal officials now recommend the round of shots for all U.S. girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26, as well as for boys and men between 11 and 21. But persistent scaremongering about the vaccine — and specifically, the notion that protecting teens from an STD will lead them to engage in risky sexual behavior — has dissuaded some parents from giving it to their kids.

However, the new study found no evidence to back up those fears. After surveying both sexually experienced and inexperienced young women between the ages of 13 and 24, researchers found that the “vast majority” of participants still believed it was important to practice safe sex after getting the HPV vaccine. Most did not erroneously believe that the shot protected them against a wider range of sexually transmitted infections. All in all, there was no association with getting the HPV vaccine and immediately altering sexual behavior.

In other words, reality still doesn’t line up with Puritan delusions. It never has.

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  • Al Dente

    Puritan delusions

    I’m reminded of something H.L. Mencken wrote:

    Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

  • chilidog99

    Damn, my 15 year old son will not be happy about this.

  • eric

    This was one of the more ridiculous of right-wing arguments. We didn’t even know about HPV 10-15 years ago. Kinda hard to believe that people will become more promiscuous than people were in the 1990’s, when in the 1990’s they didn’t even know they had the disease.

  • doublereed

    I’m curious about the point of such studies. It’s not like the scaremongering will stop. It’s not like the people fighting this give a crap about some study showing that they’re wrong. What’s the point?

  • Chiroptera

    …and specifically, the notion that protecting teens from an STD will lead them to engage in risky sexual behavior….

    No, that isn’t the fear. The fear is that girls will have sex. In fact, risk-free sex is precisely the problem they want to avoid.

    …researchers found that the “vast majority” of participants still believed it was important to practice safe sex after getting the HPV vaccine.

    And this will just confirm their fears. Their preferred outcome is that girls would be way, way too afraid to have any sex at all.

  • garnetstar

    I think the point was to provide some data, in the hope that some parents would be reassured. You are right, though, doublereed, it won’t help much.

    All young girls should get it, but young boys should too. There’s been a sharp rise in oral cancers that were caused by HPV (or, what they call “HPV-related”)—I believe it’s now the cause of 61% of all oral cancers. Those cancers are not easily treated and many types have low survival rates.

    Will that make more people get their children this protection from cervical and oral cancers? I leave it to yourselves to determine.

  • roggg

    Vaccines dont cause teh sex? Is that a thing? Do we need a study for this really?

  • matty1

    Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

    Brilliant, does anyone have a source for my other favourite definition of Puritanism.

    The belief that there is an all powerful, universe spanning entity with a deep and abiding interest in your genitals

  • urbanwitch

    I forget where I read it, but I think it’s a perfect definition.

    A Puritan is someone who never got over the fact he was born naked in bed with a woman.

  • eric

    Matty – a quick google tells me the quote is attributed to H.L. Mencken.

  • magistramarla

    The online health textbook in Texas that my grandson used last summer made no mention of the vaccine at all. In fact, it stated that there is no preventative or cure for HPV at this time.

    I yelled “You lie”, scaring the poor boy, and found him some information about the vaccine.

  • freehand

    doublereed: I’m curious about the point of such studies. It’s not like the scaremongering will stop. It’s not like the people fighting this give a crap about some study showing that they’re wrong. What’s the point?

    .

    To find out.

    .

    Chiroptera: And this will just confirm their fears. Their preferred outcome is that girls would be way, way too afraid to have any sex at all.

    .

    Or at least have their lives ruined if they do have sex.

  • John Horstman

    @doublereed #4: Proving the obvious (or, more particularly, questioning the obvious with the potential to prove or disprove it) is actually an important part of science. Sometimes things taken for granted are actually false, so we should always interrogate our assumptions and test even the self-evident.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    To not educate youth about sex because gods? Whatever “comfort” religion provides, the vast clerical extortion scheme (10% tithe) that pretends to know what god thinks (for you not me) is wholly evil. The conflation of biology with morality is despicable.

    Excuse me while I go have slut sex so I can get an unnecessary abortion.

  • lofgren

    John Horstman @13 is correct and thank you for mentioning it so I didn’t have to.

    Personally I am glad they did the study. It was improbable that getting vaccinated would lead to teenagers becoming more promiscuous, but not impossible. Hell, it had more potential to be true than a lot of fundie fears about sex. Now we have the data and we know. That’s better than not knowing any day.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    The idea that getting a SHOT to protect against a DEBILITATING DISEASE would make a kid MORE eager to have sex, is simply preposterous — even for Christian Reich thinking. These people’s abysmal ignorance, combined with their deranged obsession with teen sex, render them utterly unfit to be in any position of trust WRT kids.

  • carlie

    chilidog99 – I hope your son has gotten the vaccine too. :)

    My data point: both of my boys have gotten the shots, and know what they’re for, and yet aren’t clamoring to go out and have sex. So there’s that.

  • dingojack

    Raging Bee – it makes sense though. Areas that are strongly fundie have high rates of teen pregnancy and abortions. Simple projection*

    Dingo

    ====-

    * or a strong natural tendency toward pedo, hebe & Ephebophilla, amongst fundies perhaps….

  • caseloweraz

    But persistent scaremongering about the vaccine — and specifically, the notion that protecting teens from an STD will lead them to engage in risky sexual behavior — has dissuaded some parents from giving it to their kids.

    Gee — it’s almost like the people promoting this myth want America to have more serious disease cases, a higher total cost of health care, and larger federal deficits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=611455454 David Hart

    So, here’s a suggestion, albeit one which probably violates standard medical ethics: give people the HPV vaccine, but tell them it’s a vaccine for some other disease, that is not a sexually transmitted one. In order to make that work, you’d probably have to combine the HPV vaccine with the vaccine for whatever other disease was chosen.

    That way, people get the benefit of the HPV vaccine, while still thinking that they are not immunised against it. Would the chastity fetishists be happy with that?

  • dingojack

    David – tell them it’s to prevent (cervical) cancer. That’d be perfectly ethical, because it’s true.

    Dingo