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Acceptance/rejection of the Gardasil® vaccine
to prevent the human papillomavirus (HPV)

2012 to 2014:
Studies show vaccinated girls do not become
promiscuous. Webmaster's comments.
2013 CDC report on vaccine effectiveness.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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2012-OCT: Finally: two reliable studies of whether the vaccine results in girls becoming promiscuous:

Many adults, particularly those who are religiously conservative, believe that if a girl receives the Gardasil vaccine, she will become convinced that she is immune from the HPV virus, and will probably become promiscuous. Alternately, if she remains unvaccinated, she will be frightened of getting HPV and later developing cervical cancer. To a large degree, this belief is probably responsible for the low Gardasil vaccination rate.

It took seven years before reliable studies -- that attempted to detect a link between vaccination and promiscuity -- were completed. That is to be expected, because researchers would have to wait:

  • Until girls who were vaccinated at age 11 had gone through puberty, and then

  • Wait for a year or two until girls reached the age of about 16 by which time most girls had become sexually active.

  • Wait for a further number of years to see whether the girls who were vaccinated had engaged in more sexual activity than unvaccinated girls.

A number of studies had been published, including one in the UK during early 2012-OCT, which had shown no connection between vaccine inoculation and subsequent promiscuity. Another was reported in 2012-FEB. It involved older females, aged 15 to 24 and was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control who interviewed the girls directly. Researchers found no difference in sexual behavior between the vaccinated and unvaccinated sets of girls. Unfortunately, the surveys suffered from one major flaw: they generally relied on interviews of girls or their parents.

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Finally, a reliable study was published:

It was funded by Kaiser and Emory Universities. Researchers collected data on 1,398 young teenage girls who were enrolled in Kaiser Permanente health plans in Atlanta, GA. Of this group, 493 girls had been vaccinated at the age of 11 or 12 between 2006-JUL and 2007-DEC. 906 had not been vaccinated. The researchers did not interview the girls or their parents directly. Rather they studied "markers" of sexual activity from up to three years of medical records to find out whether the girls had sought birth control information, had tests for STIs, had pregnancy tests, or had become pregnant. By testing for markers instead of using direct interviews, the team felt that the results would be much more accurate.

After comparing the medical records for vaccinated and unvaccinated girls, lead author Robert Bednarczyk said that the results were "comforting and reassuring." They concluded that there was no difference in sexual activity among the two sets of girls. They found:

  • At least 90% of vaccinated and unvaccinated girls did not have pregnancy tests, tests for chlamydia, or birth control counseling.

  • Two in each group had became pregnant.

  • Chlamydia was diagnosed in one vaccinated girl and three unvaccinated girls.

They concluded that: "HPV vaccination in the recommended ages was not associated with increased sexual activity–related outcome rates." 1,2

These results were expected, because the vast majority of youths are quite aware that there are multiple STIs being circulated, and that immunity to HPV does nothing to prevent a sexually active person from becoming infected with a different STI.

Unfortunately, there is a widespread lack of confidence in scientific studies among religious conservatives. Thus, only a small percentage of conservative parents will probably accept this study as reliable.

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Webmaster's opinion: [bias alert]

Two beliefs concerning teen sexuality have logically followed from the teachings about human nature by many conservative faith groups:

  • Comprehensive sex-ed classes that teach students how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI) will cause a higher level of sexual activity among teens because fear of these two possibilities will be replaced by knowledge of how to preventing them.

  • Receiving a vaccine to drastically reduce the chances of contracting HPV and cervical cancer will cause teens to become more promiscuous because they will no longer fear contracting this particular STI.

However, actual scientific studies have revealed that these are not valid conclusions. As a result, instead of the number of deaths from cervical cancer trending towards zero during upcoming generations, they will remain higher than necessary. Some parents will find themselves burying their own children. They will have to live knowing that they could have prevented the death of their daughter. Those faith groups who advocated against vaccination would have blood on their hands.

Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) proposed a solution to conflicts in which science and religion are in conflict. He created the philosophical world view called "Non-overlapping Magisteria" (NOMA). He suggested that science and religion each has its own area of interest that should not overlap. So questions of God, Heaven, Hell, salvation are religious questions best studied by theologians; scientists should stay away from them. Meanwhile scientific topics like the evolution of the species, the age of the Earth and its geological changes, the history and changes in the rest of the solar system and universe are matters best left to scientists. He argued that the science and religion magisteria are so different from each other that they cannot inform, comment on, or criticize each other. If NOMA is applied to the conflict over HPV vaccination, then scientists would be left to engage in evidence-based studies to determine probable teen sexual behavior while theologians and leaders of faith groups confined themselves to other pursuits. 3

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2013-JUN: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues report on a new study of the HPV vaccines:

Results of a CDC study were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The CDC noted that:

  • About 14 million Americans become newly infected with HPV annually.

  • About 79 million Americans are currently infected. Most are in their late teens or early 20's.

  • "... since the vaccine was introduced in 2006, vaccine-type HPV prevalence decreased 56 percent among female teenagers 14-19 years of age."

  • CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, said:

    "This report shows that HPV vaccine works well, and the report should be a wake-up call to our nation to protect the next generation by increasing HPV vaccination rates. Unfortunately only one third of girls aged 13-17 have been fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine.  Countries such as Rwanda have vaccinated more than 80 percent of their teen girls. Our low vaccination rates represent 50,000 preventable tragedies -– 50,000 girls alive today will develop cervical cancer over their lifetime that would have been prevented if we reach 80 percent vaccination rates.  For every year we delay in doing so, another 4,400 girls will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes."

  • The lead researcher, Dr. Lauri Markowitz said:

    "The decline in vaccine type prevalence is higher than expected and could be due to factors such as to herd immunity, high effectiveness with less than a complete three-dose series, and/or changes in sexual behavior we could not measure. This decline is encouraging, given the substantial health and economic burden of HPV-associated disease.” 

  • About 19,000 cancers caused by HPV occur in women of which most are cervical cancers. About 8,000 cancers caused by HPV occur in men of which most are throat cancers. 4

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Discussion of this topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Scott Thelsen, "HPV Shots Don't Make Girls Promiscuous, Study Says," ABC News, 2012-OCT-15, at:
  2. Robert A. Bednarczyk, et al., "Sexual Activity–Related Outcomes After Human Papilloma virus Vaccination of 11- to 12-Year-Olds, Pediatrics journal, 2012-OCT-15, abstract at:
  3. "Non-Overlapping Magesteria," Rational Wiki, as on 2012-AUG-15, at:
  4. "New study shows HPV vaccine helping lower HPV infection rates in teen girls," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013-JUN-19, at:

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 Home page > Morality > HPV > here

 Home page > Sex > HPV > here

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Copyright © 2007 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2007-JAN-08
Last updated 2016-SEP-25

Author: Bruce A Robinson
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