HPV Vaccines: Teen Girls Think They Reduce Risk For All STDs

Although the Human Papillomavirus vaccine may be lowering teens' risk of contracting HPV, as many as one in four teenage girls falsely believes that the vaccine provides protection from a range of other sexually transmitted diseases. A new study has found that a quarter of teen girls who receive the HPV shot mistakenly think that the vaccination will also lower her risk of transmitting other STIs.

The study examined 339 girls -- all aged 13 to 21, and with close to 60 percent being sexually active -- who had recently received their first of three HPV shots. Although most girls were aware that the vaccine does not protect them from other infections, around 24 percent were under the impression that their risk for contracting other STIs, such as Herpes or Syphillis, is lessened after receiving the vaccine.

The researchers emphasized that doctors should make sure that teen patients and their parents understand that the vaccine does not protect them from other STIs, and that practicing safe sex is still necessary to minimizing their risk of contracting STIs.

With nearly 30 percent of sexually active girls aged 14 to 19 contracting HPV, it is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. While most HPV-related cancers are diagnosed for women, 7,000 cancers related to HPV were diagnosed in men last year in the U.S. The HPV vaccination is recommended for all girls and boys aged 11 and 12, and comes in a series of three shots. You can ask your doctor for more information or check the Center For Disease Control And Prevention's HPV Vaccination Fact Sheet.