A couple of years ago when the HPV vaccine programs began in this country, there was a backlash among Christian conservatives who believed – without any supporting evidence, as usual – that the application of such a vaccination program would promote sexual promiscuity. (Surprisingly, the Family Research Council was not among them.) Some of the more intellectually bankrupt even went so far as to say it also caused autism, mental retardation, and other horrible afflictions, but had to backtrack when people began to call her out on her bald faced lying.
A new study has come out to confirm what has already been known for years, but now relies on more objective signs of sexual activity (STD screenings, contraception use and counseling, pregnancy prenatal care, abortions). Their findings show that use of the HPV vaccine has no effect on sexual promiscuity.
I was originally going to post an article here, but screw it. I’m copying the abstract of the article because it’s short, worth the read, and there’s no spin:
Vaccines to prevent certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) and associated cancers are recommended for routine use among young women. Nationally representative reports of vaccine uptake have not explored the relationship between HPV vaccine initiation and various sexual behaviors.
Explore sexual behavior and demographic correlates of HPV vaccine initiation from a nationally representative survey of adolescent and young adult women.
In 2007–2008, a total of 1243 girls/women aged 15–24 years responded to questions about receiving HPV vaccine in the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). In 2010, demographic and sexual behavior correlates were evaluated in bivariate and multivariate analyses by age.
HPV vaccine initiation was higher among those aged 15–19 years than those aged 20–24 years (30.3% vs 15.9%, p<0.001). No differences existed by race/ethnicity for those aged 15–19 years, but among women aged 20–24 years, non-Hispanic blacks were less likely than non-Hispanic whites to have received the HPV vaccine (AOR=0.15). HPV vaccine initiation was greater for those with insurance regardless of age. HPV vaccination was not associated with being sexually active or number of sex partners at either age. Among sexually active adolescents aged 15–19 years, those who received HPV vaccine were more likely to always wear a condom (AOR=3.0).
This study highlights disparities in HPV vaccine initiation by insurance status among girls/women aged 15–24 years and by race/ethnicity among women aged >19 years. No association was found between HPV vaccination and risky sexual behavior.
In light of yet another body of evidence showing this to be true, it’s my hope that the standard Christian conservative talking point that “protection from pregnancy or disease will only encourage risky sexual activity” will be heard a little less. It probably won’t, but one can hope. Besides, all the chatter on from their side of the Peanut Gallery might draw attention away from the fact that it’s a lack of education and unconscionable scare tactics applied in these “abstinence only” programs that are at the root of increased STDs and teen pregnancies. Why? Teens are still just as curious about sex, but after being lied to, now they have no reason to trust the most reliable forms of protection … so they choose none instead. That is risky – and deadly – behavior, and religious dogma is at the source.