HPV vaccine doesn’t make girls have more sex


Girls who get the HPV vaccine do not have more sex than their counterparts, says a new study, which debunks one of the common arguments against young women getting the potentially life-saving vaccine.

The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, surveyed 1,400 girls who were vaccinated at around age 11 and found that those who were vaccinated did not have a higher rate of sexual activity than their non-vaccinated peers.

“We’re hopeful that once physicians see this, it will give them evidence that they can give to parents,” study author Robert A. Bednarczyk told the New York Times. “Hopefully when parents see this, it’ll be reassuring to them and we can start to overcome this barrier.”

The HPV vaccine protects against the common sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts as well as cervical, oral and anal cancers.

In Canada, all girls have received the vaccine since 2010, with girls getting the shot somewhere between Grade 4 and Grade 8, depending on the province. The Canadian Cancer Society also recommends that boys get the vaccine.

But the vaccine has come up against controversy as some parents and religious leaders argue that it will encourage girls to have sex before marriage. In Calgary, Bishop Frederick Henry has come under fire for delivering a religious edict against the vaccine. He, along with other Alberta bishops, sent a letter home with Catholic-system schoolchildren saying that parents should not support a school-based HPV vaccination program and and should protect their children from “counterproductive influences and potential abuse,” reports The National Post.

There has been similar backlash in the U.S., where a study from the Yale University School of Medicine, published in 2008, showed that HPV vaccine rates in the U.S. were lower than desired due, in part, to parents’ concern about the effect the vaccine would have on “sexual activity among adolescent vaccine recipients.”

Like Maclean’s on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates through the day.

Filed under:

HPV vaccine doesn’t make girls have more sex

  1. I’m sorry, I really don’t understand how a vaccine will promote sexual activity. I mean, unless it has some sort of aphrodisiac qualities, all a vaccine will do is reinforce the idea that “You can get diseases by doing this.”

    • The argument was that the fear of STD can be a factor for a person to decide not to engage in extra-marital sex. Reducing the possibility of STD – by vaccine or otherwise – will reduce this fear factor, and therefore may cause the person more likely to decide to do it.
      A more twisted reasoning is to believe that STD is generally a “punishment” for engaging in extra-marital sex. Therefore one should not prevent the punishment from taking place.

      • Were the people who make this argument never teens? Because from what I remember, the fear of an STD was always pretty low on the list of reasons why I wasn’t having sex (certainly well behind being awkward and self-conscious about the subject), and that was during the worst of the AIDS thing. After all, STDs were what happened to other people. Which is why I tend to think having to take a vaccine would drive the message home “This can happen to you!”

        As for that second argument, you’re right, that’s just frickin’ twisted. I prefer to believe nobody actually holds to that reasoning. Not when it involves gambling with the lives of our daughters.

  2. It won’t make any difference, because the religious right doesn’t care
    about facts and evidence. They just want to stop girls from having sex. Allowing the HPV vaccine not only assumes that most girls will have sex (perish the thought!) but would actually protect them from an adverse consequence of sex (when they should be punished instead).

Sign in to comment.