HealthDay News — Getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus does not appear to increase unsafe sexual practices among teen girls, results of a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggest.

The CDC and other groups recommend that all girls aged 11 and 12 years receive the vaccine, and that teenagers and young women aged up to 26 years should still receive the vaccine even if they missed the earlier window. 

“Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates among U.S. females remain low, in part because of concerns that HPV vaccination may promote unsafe sexual activity by lowering perceived risks of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection (STI),” noted Anupam Jena, MD, PhD, assistant professor of health-care policy at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues.

To determine if HPV vaccination rates among girls is associated with increases in STI rates, the scientists culled data from a large, longitudinal insurance database of female patients aged 12 to 18 years (n=208,111).

STI rates did rise among vaccinated girls — to 6.8 cases per 1,000 girls. But there was nearly an identical increase among unvaccinated girls, whose rate rose to 4.2 per 1,000 cases over the same time period.

“Vaccination is unlikely to promote unsafe sexual activity,” concluded the investigators.


  1. Jena A et al. JAMA Intern. Med. 2015; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7886