There is no evidence to suggest that getting an HPV vaccination encourages teenage girls to engage in riskier sexual behaviour, according to a new study.
The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, used data from the B.C. Adolescent Health Survey, which collects health information every five years from B.C. students in grades 7 through 12. The study is based on responses from almost 300,000 female students provided in the years 2003, 2008 and 2013.
The HPV vaccine was made available in 2008 to girls in Grade 6 in B.C. schools, according to Elizabeth Saewyc, director of the school of nursing at the University of British Columbia and one of the study’s authors.
Saewyc said the study was done in part to address concerns that the vaccine gives girls the false sense that they can engage in riskier sexual behaviour. She found the opposite to be true.
According to the data, the number of girls who reported having sex between ages 12 and 18 decreased to 18 per cent in 2013 from 21 per cent in 2003. And among those girls who are sexually active, oral contraceptive use increased by 9 per cent and teenage pregnancy decreased by 42 per cent in that 10-year period.
Teenage girls’ sexual behavior remained the same or became safer after HPV vaccination was introduced in BC schools, according to new research: <a href=”https://t.co/0G2pL3Q8qH”>https://t.co/0G2pL3Q8qH</a><a href=”https://twitter.com/HPV_research?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@HPV_research</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnhealth?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cdnhealth</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/publichealth?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#publichealth</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HPVvaccine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HPVvaccine</a> <a href=”https://t.co/jy10UKIqWf”>pic.twitter.com/jy10UKIqWf</a>
“We can say for sure that the HPV vaccine did not increase risky behaviours among adolescents,” said Saewyc.
“In fact, young people are making healthier decisions today than they ever have.”
Saewyc acknowledged there are other factors that may be contributing to teens’ healthier choices, such as wider access to information on the internet and better sexual health information than there was over a decade ago.
“We can’t actually connect those dots … but we can say the trends look like they are going to continue,” said Saewyc.