When the UK Government first decided to provide the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine to all girls it was met with opposition from those who claimed that it would ‘fuel promiscuity’. Of course this is nonsense and everyone who works in sexual health with young people said so at the time.
Either the vaccinations would be given with no explanation to the girls of the fact that HPV is a sexually transmitted infection in which case most girls would make no connection – either positive or negative – between the vaccine and sexual activity OR – obviously the option we favoured – the vaccination programme would be used as an opportunity to do some sexual health promotion. This work would:
- celebrate the fact that this vaccine could prevent the majority of deaths from cervical cancer
- encourage girls to have regular pap or ‘smear’ tests once they are old enough
- talk about minimising risk factors for o