It's Official: HPV Vaccine Doesn't Turn Teens Into Whore Monsters

New research today from the Department of Oh My God Why Does This Study Have To Exist — turns out, vaccinating teenage girls against HPV won't cause them to go from innocent children drawing pictures of flowers with crayons to unstoppable slutzillas. Sort of like how wearing seatbelts doesn't cause car accidents, or how wearing sunscreen doesn't cause skin cancer. But will the study convince reticent parents to abandon their ass-backwards logic and actually acknowledge that their daughters' sexuality will someday exist?

The study, published today in the journal Pediatrics, showed that there was no evidence that girls who are given the Gardasil vaccine against HPV respond by going out and hopping on the nearest dick. Instead, girls who receive the vaccine have similar sexual trajectories to their unvaccinated peers — except the girls who are vaccinated get the bonus of being protected from a deadly and preventable form of cancer when they do have sex.

In 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that all girls receive the HPV vaccine at ages 11 or 12. But many parents have chosen to ignore that recommendation on the grounds that they believe the only thing keeping 11-year-old girls from having sex is a fear of imminent death. Without the fear of HPV, they reason, what is holding back the tide of harlotry?

And so, even though it's a stupid question, science investigated, tracking the sexual behaviors of about 1,400 girls who received the vaccine in 2006. Rather than relying on notoriously unreliable first-person testimony of teens, who are liars, researchers examined smoking-gun type behaviors that often accompany sex — like contraceptive counseling and STI testing. According to MedPage Today,

Through 3 years of follow-up, the rate of pregnancy, testing for or diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection, and receipt of contraceptive counseling was 5.5 per 100 person-years in the vaccinated group and 3.9 per 100 person-years in the control group, a difference that was not statistically significant after adjustment for healthcare-seeking behavior, age at vaccination, race, and socioeconomic status (incidence rate ratio 1.29, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.80).

In other words, insistence that disease-preventing measures lead to sex is a bunch of malarkey.

Further, researchers surmised that any uptick in sexual activity after the vaccination would occur within a few months, when the girls were more freshly aware of their disease-proof status, but there was no evidence that this was happening, either. Turns out, knowing you're not going to get cervical cancer from having sex entices girls to be sexually active sort of like how making gay marriage legal turns kids gay.

Doctors quoted by the New York Times sounded hopeful that they could show this study's results to concerned parents who are hesitant to provide their daughters with the vaccine, since apparently preservation of female sexual purity is more important than preventing cancer.

Call me cynical, but I'm not convinced that the country that invented purity rings will be willing to throw Michele Bachmannesque anti-Gardasil hysteria aside en masse just because some fancy elites in Georgia used science to present some data. Unfortunately, in this case, ignoring the problem is a particularly ineffective method of solving it. And willful ignorance can't cure cancer.

[MedPage Today]