Despite the health benefits of HPV vaccine, which prevents several types of cancer, uptake in the U.S. remains low. Some states have offered financial incentives or school-based education programs to increase vaccination rates.
A new study in the September 2018 Pediatrics, "Legislation to Increase Uptake of HPV Vaccination and Adolescent Sexual Behaviors," (published online Aug. 13), examined the impact of such legislation on sexual activity among high school students.
Researchers analyzed data on sexual activity and condom use from the school-based state Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) from 2001 to 2015, before and after HPV vaccine legislation was enacted in 16 states. They compared the responses to data from 25 states without HPV vaccine legislation.
Researchers found no difference in risky sexual behaviors among teens in states with HPV legislation compared to teens in states without legislation. In fact, many indicators of risky sexual activity among teens (such as teen pregnancy rates, number of people having sexual intercourse with four or more people, etc.) have decreased over recent years, while access to HPV vaccination has increased.
Study authors conclude that concerns that legislation will increase risky adolescent sexual behaviors should not be used as a deterrent when deciding to pass HPV legislation.
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