Nearly one in four girls who gets the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine mistakenly thinks that her risk of getting other sexually transmitted diseases is lowered, a new study indicates.
HPV is the most commonly transmitted sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, with nearly 30 percent of sexually active girls aged 14 to 19 infected. Some virus types can raise the risk for genital warts and cervical cancer.
In the study, lead researcher Dr. Tanya Kowalczyk Mullins, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, polled 339 girls, average age nearly 17, after their first of three HPV doses, and their mothers. Nearly 60 percent of the girls were sexually experienced.
Mullins wanted to know the girls' perceived risk of getting HPV after the vaccination, their perceived risk of getting other STIs and their perceived need for continued safer sex behaviors.
"Most girls correctly thought the vaccine does not protect them against STIs other than HPV," Mullins said.
However, 24 percent of the girls mistakenly thought they were at lower risk for other STIs such as syphilis and gonorrhea after the HPV vaccine, she found.
"I think it's important to counsel [girls] about what the vaccine protects against," said Mullins.
The findings were reported in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.