BY: Cherlya Tonge

MYTH: HPV vaccines are just for girls.

FACT: Males are also at risk for HPV and related diseases, such as genital warts, so it is recommended that boys and young men be vaccinated too.

MYTH: Teens who are vaccinated against HPV will become promiscuous.

FACT: Several studies have shown that vaccination does not lead to increased sexual behavior.  While many studies relied upon self-reported behavior about sexual activity, a 2012 study published in the journal Pediatrics instead looked at medical data, including pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection testing or diagnosis, and contraceptive counseling as evidence of sexual activity.  The researchers found that HPV vaccination in the recommended ages was NOT associated with increased sexual activity.

MYTH: HPV vaccines are dangerous.

FACT: HPV vaccines have been used in many countries around the world for several years, and have proven to be safe and well tolerated.  The most common reported side effect is pain, redness, and swelling around where the shot was given.  Other mild reactions reported included fever, headache, fatigue, fainting, nausea and vomiting, as with any vaccine or medication, there is always a possibility of a serious problem, such as allergic reaction.  However, such reactions are rare and HPV vaccines continue to be monitored for any safety concerns.

MYTH: Women who get vaccinated against HPV no longer have to have PAP tests.

FACT: HPV vaccines can protect against the HPV types found with most cases of cervical cancer, but there are other high-risk types the vaccines don’t cover.  Even if a woman has been vaccinated against HPV, regular screening with PAP and HPV tests, is still necessary.  HPV and PAP saves lives!

Don’t fall for the MYTHS – get the FACTS. | www.ashasexualhealth.org