Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vaccine Doesn’t Cause Sex

Human Papilloma Virus, NIH

A new study indicates that the vaccine against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) does not causes girls to become more promiscuous.

The researchers looked at "markers" of sexual activity after vaccination including records on whether girls had sought birth control advice; tests for sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy; or had become pregnant. Hardly any of the girls who got the shots at age 11 or 12 had done any of these things over the next three years and the study found no difference in these markers compared with unvaccinated girls.

The study followed almost 1,400 girls enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente health plan in Atlanta.

The study did not examine older girls. However, other research indicates the vaccine does not increase promiscuity among older girls, either, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

HPV Wart, Image by George Chernilevsky
Controversy has surrounded the shot since its inception. Paranoid parents and religious zealots have been arguing that the shots would make little girls go out and start having sex. Their claims should have been seen as absurd and the brouhaha should have dissipated quietly and quickly. For one, there are far more compelling reasons to avoid having sex like unwanted pregnancies or simply not being socially, sexually or physically ready or interested in it. Indeed, the vaccine is recommended for boys and girls at age 11 or 12 because that is well before most of them start having sex.

It is also delusional, hypocritical and irresponsible to pretend that we can keep our children pristine and pure until they have married the parentally-approved spouse of our dreams. Some kids will experiment with sex before then and it is extremely difficult to stop this without doing things that can damage parents’ relationships with them. Parents who remain in denial of their children’s sexuality, or who try to suppress it, run the risk of having children who are ignorant about the risks or reckless and, consequently, get pregnant or an STD.

Here are some of the facts around HPV and the vaccine from the Scienceline blog and the Science Based Medicine blog:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical, anal, penile, vulvar, vaginal, mouth and throat cancer and can affect both boys and girls. Thus the CDC is now recommending that boys and young men, as well as girls, be vaccinated against HPV.
  • HPV is the only known cause of cervical cancer, which kills roughly 300,000 women annually, one of the highest causes of cancer death for women globally.
  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world, infecting half of all sexually active men and women in their lifetimes. One estimate suggests that between 75 and 80% of all Americans will be infected at some point in their lives
  • The majority of those infected never know it, which means they may unknowingly be transmitting it to their partners, but that it is persisting in their bodies where it could be contributing to the development of tumors
  • The vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, are 70% effective at preventing cervical cancer and 90% effective at stopping genital warts
  • Clinical trials show that the vaccine has no serious side effects. While there have been claims of vaccine-related deaths, none have been verified and no causal links between the vaccine and fatalities have been proven
  • The vaccines are much more effective when administered to young teens than when given to older teens and adults
  • It won’t make them mentally retarded, contrary to Michelle Bachman’s claims. In fact, there is no credible evidence that anyone has become retarded because of the vaccine.

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