Girls Who Get HPV Vaccine Still Value Safe Sex

MedPage Today

By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: January 04, 2012
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.

Most girls who receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine don’t take it as a license for riskier sexual behavior, researchers reported.

In baseline data from a longitudinal study, participants perceived themselves at lower risk for HPV infection after getting the vaccine, according to Tanya Kowalczyk Mullins, MD, of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, and colleagues.

But most still said they needed to practice safer sex, Mullins and colleagues reported in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

On the other hand, those who saw less of a continued need for safer sex were more likely to have a lower level of knowledge about HPV and the vaccine itself, the researchers reported.

The findings come from a survey taken after the first HPV shot for 339 female participants, ages 13 to 21, in a continuing longitudinal cohort. Some 235 mothers and female guardians were also surveyed.

The girls averaged 16.8 years, 76.4% were black, and 57.5% were sexually active, the researchers reported.

The primary outcome measures were perceived post-vaccination risk of HPV, risk of other sexually transmitted infections, and need for safer sexual behaviors. The researchers also looked to see what factors influenced a perceived lesser need for safer sex.

On 10-point scales, with lower numbers indicating less perceived risk or less need for sexual safety, the researchers found:

  • An average score of 5 on the risk-of-HPV scale
  • An average of 6.1 on the scale for perceived risk of other sexually transmitted infections
  • An average of 8.5 on the scale for perceived need for safer sexual behavior

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