Can I still get the HPV vaccine if I am older?
Girls Who Get HPV Vaccine Still Value Safe Sex
Young women without much knowledge of HPV are less likely to see a continued need for safe sex.
By Michael Smith, MedPage Today
Medically Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD
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WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4, 2012 (MedPage Today) —Most girls who receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine don't take it as a license for riskier sexual behavior, researchers reported.
In data from a study, participants perceived themselves at lower risk for HPV infection after getting the vaccine, according to Tanya Kowalczyk Mullins, MD, of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, and colleagues.
But most still said they needed to practice safer sex, Mullins and colleagues reported in the January issue ofArchives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
On the other hand, those who saw less of a continued need for safer sex were more likely to have a lower level of knowledge about HPV and the vaccine itself, the researchers reported.
The findings come from a survey taken after the first HPV shot for 339 female participants, ages 13 to 21, in a continuing longitudinal cohort. Some 235 mothers and female guardians were also surveyed.
The girls averaged 16.8 years, 76.4 percent were black, and 57.5 percent were sexually active, the researchers reported.
The primary outcome measures were perceived post-vaccination risk of HPV, risk of other sexually transmitted infections, and need for safer sexual behaviors. The researchers also looked to see what factors influenced a perceived lesser need for safer sex.
On 10-point scales, with lower numbers indicating less perceived risk or less need for sexual safety, the researchers found:
Slightly more than half of the girls (50.7 percent) had a score of 9 or higher for perceived need for safer sexual behaviors, and only 3.8 percent had an average lower than 5, Mullins and colleagues reported.
Overall, girls perceived themselves to be at lower risk for HPV after vaccination than for other sexually transmitted infections, a difference that was significant.
In an analysis, five factors among those vaccinated were significantly associated with a lower perceived need for safer sex:
- Lower HPV and HPV vaccine knowledge.
- Less concern about HPV infection.
- Lack of condom use at last intercourse with male main partner.
- No lifetime alcohol use.
- A teacher serving as a source of HPV vaccine information, possibly because information was not clear.
Among mothers and guardians, three factors were associated with a daughter's lower perceived need for safer sex:
- Lower HPV and HPV vaccine knowledge.
- Lack of communication with the daughter about the vaccine.
- A physician serving as a source of information about the vaccine, again possibly because information was not delivered clearly.
The researchers cautioned that the study involved participants from a single clinic that mainly served a low-income urban population, so the results may not apply more widely.
They added that the data were obtained just after the first HPV vaccination, so that no conclusions could be drawn about long-term risk perceptions or their impact on actual sexual behaviors.
Also, a social desirability bias may have raised scores on the measure of perceived need for safer sexual behaviors, Mullins and colleagues noted.
Video: Why do boys have to get the HPV vaccine?
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