Few parents worry that vaccinating their daughters against human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer would cause promiscuity.
This is the finding of Dr Noel Brewer and colleagues from the University of North Carolina, USA and the Centers for Disease Control who will present their findings next week at the British Psychological Society's Division of Health Psychology's Annual Conference being held at the University of Bath.
As HPV can be transmitted via sex, some conservative groups have expressed concern that vaccinating adolescent girls against HPV will encourage them to become promiscuous. This research set out to see if these attitudes were prevalent among parents of adolescent girls.
Parents or guardians of nearly 900 girls (aged nine to 18 years) in the United States were questioned about whether they felt HPV vaccinations would cause promiscuity. Less than 20% of those questioned believed that this would, and less than 1% of parents named promiscuity concerns as their main reason for not getting their daughters the vaccine.
Dr Brewer commented: "Most parents and guardians of adolescent girls support HPV vaccination. There has been much debate in the media about the dangers of vaccinations and whether the HPV vaccine will lead to an epidemic of promiscuity among young women. These findings show that most parents see the vaccinations as a necessity to protect the health of their daughters and dispel the myth that so many are concerned about the effect on their daughters' sexual behaviour. Policy makers need to see these unusual beliefs as a risk factor for parents not vaccinating their daughters, rather than a reason to withhold the vaccine from the many parents eager to get their daughters the vaccine."
Do you find that parents worry that HPV vaccinations would cause promiscuity? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"I find Allie's comments (below) highly offensive, ignorant and uninformed, and it is worrying that there are people out there who still think like that. HPV is most definitely NOT 'only caused from being promiscuous or having unprotected sex with a number of partners'! It is not passed through exchange of fluids but through skin contact. It can be, and very commonly is, contracted during protected sex or sexual caressing, whether or not a condom is used, and no matter how many or few partners the person has had. I know this from experience. You do not need to be promiscuous or careless or sleep around to be infected, you simply need to have skin contact with one person who has it (and most likely doesn't know, as it can show no
signs for years).
I think it is excellent news that young people are being offered the vaccine for free (it costs £450 for over 18s). I wish this had been the case when I was in school, and if I had a child I would most definitely want them to have it. Why wouldn't you want to protect your child given the opportunity? Having a vaccination does not mean they have to go out and have sex there and then! My advice is take it while you can. What if next year the government changes its mind and stops offering the vaccine? Have the jab and you can then forget all about it and rest assured that in the future when you do start having sex (or indeed if you are raped) you will at least be protected from this incurable STI that condoms will not protect you from. I do hope people like Allie will read this and have a change of heart." - Eve, England
"Having just received the rather dubious leaflet from my daughter's school offering her the HPV jab at the tender age of 12, I would like to say that I very strongly believe this is promoting unprotected sexual activity in underage girls. If this jab could protect from all strains of cervical cancer I would be 100% behind it but for it to be only concerned with cervical cancer caused from being promiscuous or having unprotected sex with a number of partners can only raise cause for concern. Having spoken to my daughter about the jab she is more than happy to wait until she is old enough to think she might know what kind of life she wants for herself, probably around the age of 16. She is fully aware already that it is her body and she can do as she wants with it and her decision today is she won't be having sex for quite a while yet. Can't we just leave our little girls alone to grow up naturally before we put more ideas into their heads about making it safer to sleep around? This campaign is being aimed at the wrong age bracket and that is cause for concern in itself. Have we all really given up on the 'age of consent' and advising our girls to put a higher value on themselves?" - Allie
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