A new study of 339 girls aged 13 to 21 looked into young women’s perception of the vaccine’s safety. Although Gardasil only protects against strains of the humanpapilloma virus or HPV that cause cervical cancer, as well as some strains of the virus that cause genital warts, almost one fourth of girls surveyed thought otherwise. Gardasil does not decrease chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, or AIDS. But 23.6% of girls surveyed believed that they were at decreased risk for catching the aforementioned diseases after being vaccinated.
These findings highlight the need for honest and fact-based sex education for young kids, specifically on the part of parents and doctors. The survey team noted:
“Clinicians discussing HPV vaccination with girls and their mothers may need to emphasize the limitations of the vaccine and to specifically address that the vaccine does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections.”
Although HPV is often encountered in one’s lifetime (Reuters reports that more than half of American adults will be exposed to the virus at some point), making sure that teens comprehend the true abilities of these vaccines could save them from making other life-changing mistakes.