New study: HPV vaccine makes girls think about sexual risks

Remember how conservatives think the HPV vaccine will just make young girls want to go out and have lots of The Sex? According to a new UK study published in the British Journal of Cancer, it looks like getting the vaccine actually makes them even more wary about risky sexual behavior:

One in five of the 12 and 13-year-olds polled by the University of Manchester team thought the vaccine was embarrassing because it is for a sexually-transmitted infection – human papillomavirus, or HPV.
But, 79% of the girls said having the vaccination reminded them of the possible risks of sexual contact and 93% said it showed they were serious about their own health.

This is not too long after Gardasil was recently approved for boys and a new vaccine for girls aged 10-25 has been approved by the FDA, Cervarix.

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8 Comments

  1. Ashvll
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Ive seen some misinformation in the comments on this site about HPV, and can I take this opportunity as one of the first posters to advocate the vaccine and remind everyone that condoms do NOT fully protect (if at all) against HPV, as it is transmitted through skin contact, and not fluid exchange.
    Please get vaccinated, and tell the Young men/boys in your life its safe for them now too.

  2. Femmalily
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I can attest from personal experience that receiving the vaccine in the summer of 2007 made me feel more serious about my sexual health, and the framing of the advertising campaign surrounding the vaccine certainly used a rhetoric of “empowerment”–taking action against “cervical cancer” and being “one less.” HPV got a lot of cultural attention that year and it has sustained itself over the past two years.
    However, the lack of definitive information, the controversial side effects that have come to the surface, and the strange politics of the vaccine, have made me reflect on the excitement and hoopla that it inspired back in 07. I have started to wonder whether my feelings of “empowerment” and, like this study says, sense of taking my health seriously, only exist within the framework of the FEAR instilled by the ad campaign. Sure, it raised awareness, but it also stigmatized and spotlighted an extremely common STI in a very gendered way. I certainly felt like I was immoral or sexually irresponsible if I DIDN’T subscribe to this mainstream and “easy” solution to a complex and over-dramatized phenomenon. Why are we so easily sold, and where is the longitudinal data?

  3. DeafBrownTrash
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    and still no concern over boys engaging in risky sexual behaviors, either… right!

  4. Comrade Kevin
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of the conventional wisdom of my high school health teacher, who believed that showing slides of diseased sexual organs infected with advanced stages of syphilis constituted “birth control”.

  5. mightydoll
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    Great, now let’s focus on making boys more wary of same. Girls are already being indoctrinated to carry more than half of the responsibility for sexual decisions, the idea that the HPV vaccine is declared safe and effective for boys, but still not recommended for them merely promotes the idea that women are the gatekeepers of sex and men can’t be expected to take responsibility.

  6. mightydoll
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Great, now let’s focus on making boys more wary of same. Girls are already being indoctrinated to carry more than half of the responsibility for sexual decisions, the idea that the HPV vaccine is declared safe and effective for boys, but still not recommended for them merely promotes the idea that women are the gatekeepers of sex and men can’t be expected to take responsibility.

  7. Kristina
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Along with promoting getting vaccinated against HPV, women must still be encouraged to begin regular screening for cervical cancer within three years after becoming sexually active, and at no later than age 21.
    For more information about HPV and cervical cancer, check out this website.
    It’s estimated that over 4,000 women in the US will die from cervical cancer this year alone. Please help spread the word by promoting both screening and getting vaccinated.

  8. mmensi1
    Posted October 31, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s also important to remember that the HPV vaccine is not only protecting women against cervical cancer, but a CDC panel is supposedly presenting info in 2010 about its effectiveness against colorectal cancer, penile cancer, and anal cancer (all of which have shown increased numbers in patients with HPV). I think it will be interesting to see how the politics of the vaccine change when this new information comes to light. I’d like to see the advertising campaign suddenly shift for boys to “take responsibility” for their health and be “one less” when penile cancer is on the table.

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