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NLM Director’s Comments Transcript
HPV Vaccine Not Associated with Increased Sexual Activity: 11/05/2012

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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Some of the clinical outcomes associated with female sexual activity did not increase comparatively among 11-12 year old girls after they received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, suggests a pioneering study recently published in Pediatrics.

The study found sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, as well as other related clinical outcome rates were statistically similar between 11-12 year old girls who received the HPV vaccine and 11-12 girls (both from the Atlanta area) who never received the vaccine.

Specifically, the study reported no differences between girls who did and did not receive the HPV vaccine regarding: testing for sexually transmitted infections, the diagnosis of chlamydia, and contraceptive counseling.

The authors conclude (and we quote): ‘HPV vaccination in the recommended ages was not associated with increased sexual activity-related outcome rates’ (end of quote). In addition, the study suggests the HPV vaccine may not be linked to sexual behavioral outcomes among pre-teen girls when they become teenagers.

The study followed about 1,400 girls who were patients at Kaiser Permanente Georgia, a managed care health plan in the Atlanta area. Participant medical records were tracked for a three-year period between 2006-2010. All participants were 11 or 12 years old when they first saw a doctor in 2006 or 2007. About 493 of the girls in the study received at least one dose of a HPV vaccine.

The study’s four authors explain their findings were derived exclusively from clinical patient records. The authors contrast the current study’s methods with previous research by noting (and we quote): ‘To date, there has been no evaluation of changes in sexual activity-related outcomes after HPV vaccination that avoids the risk of response bias that may occur in sexual activity surveys’ (end of quote).

The authors explain the study focused on 11-12 year old girls who did or did not receive the HPV vaccine because they are less likely to be sexually active compared to other teenagers.

The authors add the study’s findings directly address a concern in previous literature that the HPV vaccination might result in sexual disinhibition because the vaccine prevents the development of cervical cancer from some human papillomavirus strains.

MedlinePlus.gov’s HPV health topic page explains about 30 of the 100 types of HPV increase one’s risk of cancer. A website on HPV vaccines (from the National Cancer Institute -- available in the ‘start here’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s HPV health topic page) explains the HPV vaccine specifically prevents the development of cervical cancer from most (but not all) HPV strains.

An estimated 4,000 women will die in the U.S. and about 274,000 women die internationally each year from cervical cancer. The CDC estimates about 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer occur annually in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) recommends one of two existing three-dose series HPV vaccines should be given to girls at ages 11-12, or for women ages 13-24 who have not been previously vaccinated. The CDC recommends a different HPV vaccine for boys ages 11-12.

The prevention/screening section of MedlinePlus.gov’s HPV health topic page includes direct links to information about Gardasil and Cervarix — the two approved HPV vaccines. The same section contains a link to a CDC website that provides information tailored to young women about the HPV vaccine.

Within MedlinePlus.gov’s HPV health topic page, you additionally will find HPV related information about diagnosis/symptoms, prevention, screening, and coping.

MedlinePlus.gov’s HPV health topic page also contains links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to related clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. From the HPV health topic page, you can sign up to receive email updates with links to new information as it becomes available on MedlinePlus.

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s HPV health topic page, type ‘HPV’ in the search box at the top of MedlinePlus.gov’s home page. Then, click on ‘HPV (National Library of Medicine).’ Links to health topic pages devoted to cervical cancer, and sexual health issues are accessible within ‘related topics’ on the right side of MedlinePlus.gov’s HPV health topic page.

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A disclaimer – the information presented in this program should not replace the medical advice of your physician. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your physician or other health care provider. I want to take the opportunity to wish you a very happy holiday season and a healthy New Year. The National Library of Medicine and the 'Director's Comments' podcast staff, including Dr. Lindberg, appreciate your interest and company – and we hope to find new ways to serve you in 2012.

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