October 18, 2012
1 min read

HPV vaccine not associated with pregnancy, STDs in teens

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Adolescents who received the HPV vaccine were not any more likely to become pregnant, contract STDs or need contraceptives than adolescents who did not receive the vaccine, according to study results published online.

Since the introduction of the HPV vaccine, there have been concerns — raised both in peer-reviewed literature and the popular media — that use of the vaccine may lead to increased sexual activity, due in part to the mistaken belief that HPV vaccine protects against pregnancy and STDs other than HPV. The researchers, from Kaiser Permanente and Emory University, set out to determine whether these concerns had validity.

Robert Bednarczyk, PhD, an epidemiologist with Kaiser, and colleagues included 1,398 girls aged 11 to 12 years who were members of the Kaiser Permanente health plan in Georgia in 2006 and 2007, during the first 18 months after Merck’s Gardasil vaccine became available. Of this group, 493 girls received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine during the study period. The comparison group included 905 girls who received other recommended vaccines but not the HPV vaccine. Researchers followed both groups of girls for up to 3 years.

About 10% of the girls in the study, both those who received the vaccine and those who did not, had one or more of the tested outcomes. The average age of testing, diagnosis or counseling was about 14.5 years. Only eight girls were diagnosed with an STI or had a positive pregnancy test. Girls who received the HPV vaccine did not have a statistically higher rate of testing, diagnosis or counseling compared with those who did not receive the vaccine.

“This is reassuring news for teenagers, parents, and members of the public. Our study adds to growing evidence that the HPV vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent these rare but sometimes deadly cancers,” Robert Davis, MD, MPH, a co-author and senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research–Southeast, said in a press release about the study.

Disclosure: One study researcher reported serving as Chair of the Data and Safety Monitoring Board for a study funded by Merck, and another researcher reported working on trials that had funding paid to institutions funded by Merck and Roche.