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Topic #8 – Does the HPV vaccine increase early or risky sexual behavior?

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

Question: Should I be concerned that getting my pre-teen vaccinated for HPV sends the wrong message about being sexually active?

Dr. LaSalle: It turns out, most kids aren’t thinking about sexual activity at the age of 11 and even fewer are thinking about it at the age of 9. If we recommend this vaccine at an early age, and for what it is truly intended to be, a cancer prevention vaccine, the discussion of sexual activity with your child doesn’t even have to come up.

But to set parents minds at ease, there have been studies looking at the question of whether giving this vaccine at a young age encourages earlier or riskier sexual activity. The answer is an emphatic No!

As an example, A study of 300 thousand girls in British Columbia who were part of a school-based HPV immunization program showed that those girls that received the vaccine, compared to their non-vaccinated peers, were LESS likely to have sex at an early age, LESS likely to use substances around sexual activity, LESS likely to get pregnant, LESS likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, and MORE likely to use protective measures like condoms and other birth control methods.

Some parents are concerned that giving the vaccine too early will mean that the protection fades, or wears off, by the time that kids really need it. As we discussed earlier, this vaccine has been around since 2006. That’s 14 years we’ve had to monitor antibody levels over time and research shows NO wearing off of immunity in that timeframe, with further studies still ongoing. You can be reassured that the HPV vaccine offers long-lasting protection against HPV-related cancers.

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