A great new study just out in Pediatrics may help you convince parents to have their daughters receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which I know can sometimes be a challenge. In part, this reluctance comes from the false, but still widely held belief, that the vaccine will encourage sexual activity.
In this retrospective study, researchers used longitudinal data from a large managed care organization to evaluate the composite outcome of pregnancy/sexually transmitted infection testing or diagnosis, or contraceptive counseling in 11-year-old and 12-year-old girls who received the vaccine during three years follow-up. They found no increased risk of either the composite outcome or its individual components when compared to girls who did not receive the vaccine. “If HPV vaccination was ‘a license for sex,’” the authors wrote, “we would have expected to see more adverse outcomes shortly after vaccination, when the girls were more aware of their recent vaccination status.”
These findings validate earlier surveys that found that girls receiving the HPV vaccine were not likely to change their sexual behavior because of the vaccine., ,  I know this personally, because I’ve also asked my patients this question—and received the same answer.
Of course, as you likely know, there are other barriers to HPV vaccination, including the fact that parents are just uncomfortable talking about a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease.
The best way around these barriers, I’ve found, is communication. Listen to the parent’s fears, do your best to address them, and explain the significant benefits and the low risks of the vaccine. Obviously, it is ultimately the parent’s decision whether to vaccinate their child, but, hopefully, your sensitive intervention can help guide them to make the right decision.
Do you find fewer parents resisting the HPV vaccine for their pre-teens? Click “Add Comment” below.
 United Press International. Promiscuity fears hinders HPV vaccine use. Available at: www.upi.com/Health_News/2008/12/19/
Promiscuity-fears-hinders-HPV-vaccine-use/ UPI-54571229744264/. Accessed October 28, 2011
 Schuler CL, Reiter PL, Smith JS, Brewer NT. Human papillomavirus vaccine and behavioural disinhibition. Sex Transm Infect. 2011;87(4): 349–353
 Liddon NC, Leichliter JS, Markowitz LE. Human papillomavirus vaccine and sexual behavior among adolescent and young women. Am J Prev Med. 2012;42(1):44–52
 Mullins TL, Zimet GD, Rosenthal SL, et al. Adolescent perceptions of risk and need for safer sexual behaviors after first human papillomavirus vaccination. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(1):82–88