Does HPV vaccine promote promiscuity among young girls?

Does HPV promote promiscuity among young teens?

As grandparents and parents, many of us were never exposed to the HPV vaccine that is required for Virginia girls. The vaccine is required as a way to fight against sexually transmitted disease for 11 and 12-year old’s and has been mandated since 2008.

Now, the law is up for debate and questions are being raised.

There is a bill circulating that may have the mandatory vaccination law removed. The bill is sponsored by delegate Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg. She believes this is an example of government intrusion into the lives of private families. She also cites concerns about the unknown effectiveness and long-term safety of the vaccine. But are these concerns justified?

Parental rights

The main concern from bill supporters is that it does not allow parents the freedom to make decisions for their own children (although they can opt-out). They also worry that there is a division in the medical community about whether or not the HPV vaccine is safe and effective, which causes lots of confusion.

It appears that Virginia is the only state that currently mandates the vaccine. However, parents do have the right to opt-out of the vaccination program.

Concerns and dilemmas

Many argue that the vaccination promotes promiscuity and allows young girls to feel safe having sex at an early age.

Medical proponents of the vaccine remind parents that the HPV vaccine can also prevent up to 70% of cervical cancers so that goes in the plus column for the vaccine.

It’s an interesting and confusing dilemma for parents and one that requires some thought and evaluation. If you have young girls who are nearing the age when the vaccine is being offered, you should make an informed choice about whether or not it’s right for your child or grandchild.

Get the HPV vaccine facts and make informed decisions. The HCA Virginia Health System also offers valuable information on this vaccine.

Your opinion?

We’d like to know what you think about the HPV vaccine. As Richmondmoms and RichmondGRANDmoms, your opinion matters and may help others who are grappling with what to do. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And always, make decisions that are best for your child’s individual situation.


  1. I don't understand how the vaccination mandate restricts a parent's freedom to make decisions for his or her child. There is an opt-out provision in the current legislation and exercising that right is as simple as indicating so on a student health form (at least in Henrico County). In fact, according to VA state heatlh statistics for the HPV vaccine, nearly 4 out of 5 parents do just that. Given that, perhaps the government intrusion into parents' decision-making isn't so intrusive after all.

    Evidence at CDC vaccine approval hearings showed that there was no data linking access to the vaccine with increases in sexual behavior. Current research in adolescent sexual behavior shows that a variety of factors influence teenage sexual behavior, including their moral and religious values, and the influence of family, friends, and the society they live in. It seems highly unlikely that a vaccine against a single kind of STD would play a more significant role in adolescent decision-making than these factors. (pt 1 of 2)

  2. pt 2 of 2:

    On a personal note, I had my 15 year old daughter vaccinated. I consulted both her pediatrician and my Ob-Gyn for advice; each recommended vaccination without reservation. Over 52 million doses of the vaccine have been given worldwide (including the US) and any pattern of abnormal adverse effects is not supported by the available statistics. If I could convince my insurance company to help pay for it, I would have my 18 year old son vaccinated as well (and Channel 8 news ran a story this afternoon saying that may not be such a bad idea since HPV is a leading cause of throat cancer in persons under 50).

    And at the risk of TMI, I contracted HPV in college and in an attempt to remove pre-cancerous lesions, I lost a good chunk of my cervix. With the help of a good Ob-Gyn, I was able to carry two pregnancies to term, though endured Pap smears every six months for years. So, if a vaccine (along with open, honest discussions) can help prevent my daughter suffering some of the same fates, I'm all for it.

  3. It seems to me that many parents who oppose the vaccine think that, somehow, their child won't ever be exposed to HPV, perhaps due to "good upbringing". I would like to bring up an issue which is scary for a parent to hear but necessary – unfortunately, your daughter may not have control of every situation. I have a good friend who was raped in college and, as a result, contracted HPV which rendered her incapable of naturally conceiving children later in life.

    This vaccine can protect your children. Period.

  4. I am a physician and a mother. In my opinion this should be treated like other vaccines. We know that HPV causes cervical cancer and may be implicated in other cancers as well. Why would you not give your child a vaccine that could prevent this occurance. If it is added to the routine childhood vaccine schedule then it becomes routine. More education needs to come from parents, teachers, and medical practitioners about preventative medicine overall and frank discussions concerning sex need to take place with your teens. I tell all my patients when I hand them a prescription for birth control, that other than abstinence, there is no 100% method for preventing pregnancy. In addition it is important to stress that birth control pills and even barrier methods of birth control do not fully protect you from aquiring STD's, perhaps one that you will carry for the rest of your life. Knowledge is power…please have the conversations with your children that will put them on the right path as they set off in life.

    • I agree we need better discussions about health care and preventative medicine. One of the issues with HPV vaccine is that is was mandated before good conversations were had and not enough parents understood HPV or the vaccine.
      We also don't talk about sex. We treat or deal with STDs or sex but in this State we do a very poor job of sex education.

      I'd also like to point out that good discussion means open conversation not talking AT people.

  5. I found out a few years ago that I had contracted HPV. I got pregnant when I joined the Richmond Mom website and found out I miscarried because my tube had gotten messed up and the fertilized egg could not travel down. Now, the only way I will be able to have children is through IVF. For me I think every young one should get vaccinated. It will protect them from the heart break that I have endured.

  6. This is like asking if our other vaccines will make girls more willing to French kiss. HPV is just one of dozens of common STDs among hundreds. If the vaccine is indeed effective, then I can't imagine the risk of promiscuity being greater than the risk of HPV infection. HPV is extremely prolific, and even women who are sexually conservative can contract it. Prevention is way better than cure.

  7. I think there are two things that are important to note:
    1) Parents are not losing any control because there is an opt-out. If you weigh out the pros and cons and decide that you don't believe this vaccine is the medically appropriate thing for your child than you can make that choice.
    2) This vaccine is expensive; adding it to the list of required immunizations is critical to making the vaccine accessible through coverage by private health insurers and government vaccination programs. In order to make sure this vaccine is accessible to all those who do evaluate the information and decide that they do believe it will protect their daughter from cervical cancer, it needs to be mandated. Otherwise, some who want to protect their children won't be able to afford to.

    • Delegate Kathy Byron definitely has a battle on her hands as she fights this law. The HPV vaccine has many positive benefits and our readers are quick to point them out. Thank you for helping increase awareness of HPV benefits and concerns.

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