February 4, 2014 — Receiving the human papillomavirus vaccine does not encourage adolescents or young women to start having sex or engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, according to a new study in Pediatrics, USA Today reports.
For the study, researchers surveyed 339 women and girls ages 13 to 24 immediately after receiving the HPV vaccine. They questioned the participants, who were both sexually experienced and inexperienced, on whether they felt protected against sexually transmitted infections other than HPV and whether they thought they still needed to practice safer-sex behaviors.
Senior author Jessica Kahn, an adolescent medicine physician and researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said the "vast majority" of study participants "thought it was still important to practice safer sex after vaccination, and most did not believe that HPV vaccination protected against other STIs."
Khan added, "This study, in combination with others, offers pretty convincing evidence that vaccination does not lead to riskier behaviors." She said the findings should be "reassuring to parents" (Healy, USA Today, 1/3).