- Associated Press - Monday, October 15, 2012

CHICAGO — Shots that protect against cervical cancer do not make girls promiscuous, according to the first study to compare medical records for vaccinated and unvaccinated girls.

The researchers didn’t ask girls about having sex, but instead looked at “markers” of sexual activity after vaccination against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, or HPV. Specifically, they examined up to three years of records on whether girls had sought birth control advice; tests for sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy; or had become pregnant.

Very few of the girls who got the shots at age 11 or 12 had done any of those over the next three years. Moreover, the study found no difference in rates of those markers compared with unvaccinated girls.

The study involved nearly 1,400 girls enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente health plan in Atlanta. Results were published online Monday in Pediatrics.

Whether vaccination has any influence on similar markers of sexual activity in older teens wasn’t examined in this study but other research has suggested it doesn’t.

The study is the first to use medical outcomes data to examine consequences of HPV vaccination and the results are “comforting and reassuring,” said lead author Robert Bednarczyk, a researcher at Kaiser and Emory University. Both institutions paid for the study.

Three of the study’s four co-authors reported having done previous research funded by Merck & Co., which makes one of the two HPV vaccines sold in the United States.

In the new study, at least 90 percent of vaccinated and unvaccinated girls did not seek pregnancy tests, chlamydia tests or birth control counseling, markers that were considered surrogates for sexual activity during up to three years of follow-up.