You know that whole “if you help teenagers avoid STDs, they’ll end up having more sex” philosophy that some people use to argue against sex education in schools? Well, science says it won’t–not that that was really a question nor a concern for the majority of sensible people, but at least now there’s a study to back it up.
According to behavioral health researcher Alice Forster and her team, being vaccinated for HPV has no bearing on whether or not a girl is more likely to be sexually active. They surveyed over 1,000 female teenagers, including a group that had been offered the vaccine being compared to a group who had not, as well as some whom had been vaccinated compared with a group who had not.
The group of girls who had not been offered the vaccinated were actually slightly (albeit a nearly negligible percentage) more likely to be sexually active than those teenagers who had been offered the vaccine, with statistics of 41.6% and 41.2% respectively.
Those who were vaccinated were more likely than those who hadn’t to be sexually active and “inconsistent with condoms,” but that was the same as their comparison prior to vaccination. Therefore, the vaccine had no bearing on whether or not those teenagers were having sex or using condoms. In fact, as far as we know, the only thing the HPV vaccine leads to is people not getting HPV.
I always get prematurely excited when studies like this come out because it gives more ammo to the pro-sex education argument, the fight against slut-shaming and the long-overdue dismissal of the “purity standard,” And then I remember that a lot of the people who are anti-sex education don’t believe in science or don’t trust it and will find some way to discredit these.
Nevertheless, let’s keep hoping that someday, the fact that 70% of Americans having had sex by 19-years-old will be acknowledged, and that offering condoms, birth control and solid information will be recognized as a rational response.