Study: HPV Vaccine Not Linked to Increased Promiscuity

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 15 2012 11:28 AM

Study: HPV Vaccine Not Linked to Increased Promiscuity

149948543
A new study has found no link between the HPV vaccine and sexual promiscuity, despite concerns raised by legislators and parents.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

One more reason for some legislators and parents to stop "raising concerns" about the link between a cervical cancer vaccine for young women and teen promiscuity: a new study has found that the link doesn't exist.

The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, relied on medical records to look for "markers" of sexual activity in girls who were vaccinated against human papillomavirus, the leading cause of cervical cancer, at age 11 or 12, compared to those who were not. The study found very few instances of possible sexual activity by age 14 or 15 overall, and no difference in rates between the two groups of teens, comprised of a total of 1,400 girls, as CBS explains.

Advertisement

The HPV vaccine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics for all children at age 11 or 12. The vaccination is generally delivered in three shots over six months and is intended to be administered well before the individual becomes sexually active. But because HPV can be sexually transmitted, some have reacted poorly to the idea of providing preventative treatment to a child for the virus. Because of this, state legislation intended to enforce the CDC recommendation has been met with controversy since 2006, when health officials first started recommending the vaccination.

For more on the underlying controversy, this piece from the Slate archives sums up the "promiscuity" argument nicely:

A cervical-cancer vaccination would "promote promiscuity" among teenage girls. Implicit in this argument is the assumption that good girls don't get cervical cancer; only "loose" ones do—and they may get what they deserve. [in 2007], State Sen. George Runner of California told the Los Angeles Times that American money would be much better spent on other types of vaccines, since cervical cancer is a result of lifestyle choices, rather than bad genetic luck.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. It has been linked to cervical, anal, and throat cancer. According to the New York Times, about a third of teenagers aged 14 to 19 have the virus.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 10:23 AM From Fringe to Mainstream: How We Learned to Panic About Terrorists Crossing the Border
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
The Vault
Sept. 18 2014 9:57 AM “The Sun Never Sets Upon the British Empire,” Explained in GIF by an Old Children’s Toy
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 18 2014 8:53 AM The Other Huxtable Effect Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?