Does Getting The HPV Vaccine Lead To More Unprotected Sex?

The answer will probably not surprise you.

HPV is a fairly common STD with a pretty successful vaccine with has, no surprise, become fodder for political debate. Some politicians and parents have expressed worries that if teens are vaccinated, they’ll think that they’re protected against ALL STDs and start having unprotected sex like horny, well, teenagers. But a new study proves quite the opposite.

Dr. Anupam B. Jena, Dr. Dana P. Goldman and Dr. Seth A. Seabury published their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine. Their study concentrated on 21,000 girls ages 12-18 who’d been vaccinated against HPV. They checked out their stats next to 180,000 women who had not been vaccinated. Women who had been vaccinated did not have more STDs than women who hadn’t been.

“[Physicians] can be reassured by these findings and use them to talk to their patients,” said Dr. Jena. Likewise, the conclusion of the paper’s abstract says that the study suggests this vaccination “is unlikely to promote unsafe sexual activity.”

Doctors recommend their patients, both male and female, get the HPV vaccination when they’re 11 or 12. This young age might be part of the controversy, but the vaccination is meant to be given before someone becomes sexually active. While it takes three doses to do the full vaccination, one dose lowers the chance of catching HPV by about 80%. Right now a little over half of teen girls have gotten the dose and less than half of teen males have gotten all the doses.

Because of the controversy surrounding the HPV vaccine, not enough teens are getting it, and Dr. Jena hopes this study will change that.