HPV Vaccine Doesn't Lull Girls Into Complacency About Sex

Mom, daughter vaccine knowledge, communication tied to ongoing perception of need for safer sex

THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Few teenage girls receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine perceive a reduced need for safer sexual behavior following their first inoculation, according to a study published in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Tanya L. Kowalczyk Mullins, M.D., of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study of 339 girls (ages 13 to 21) seen in an urban hospital-based adolescent primary care clinic. The girls (76.4 percent black and 57.5 percent sexually experienced) received their first HPV vaccination at a mean age of 16.8 years.

The researchers found that the girls perceived themselves to be at significantly less risk for HPV than for other sexually transmitted infections after HPV vaccination. Although most girls reported continued need for safer sexual behaviors, the perception of a reduced need for safer sexual behaviors was independently associated with lower HPV and HPV vaccine knowledge and less concern about HPV in the girls as well as reduced knowledge in their mothers. Using a physician as a source of HPV vaccine information and a lack of maternal communication about the HPV vaccine were also associated with less perceived need for safer sexual behaviors.

"Few adolescents perceived less need for safer sexual behaviors after the first HPV vaccination," the authors write. "Education about HPV vaccines and encouraging communication between girls and their mothers may prevent misperceptions among these adolescents."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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