Better Safe ... And No Reason To Be Sorry

In the 2005 movie "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) tries to overcome his loveless isolation with a series of disastrous dalliances. And while it's hard to understand why this sweet nerd has been such a failure at the dating game, we're pretty sure Andy wasn't living in fear of contracting HPV (human papilloma virus).

Fear of disease rarely prevents anyone, young or old, from having sex. If it did, there wouldn't be 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections reported annually (half being among minors). But opponents of the HPV vaccine have argued that protecting young girls and boys from cervical, throat and anal cancer associated with HPV would open the door to inappropriate sexual behavior. Now research shows that that fear is unfounded.

A study published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association tracked around 200,000 female adolescents for five years. It found that the relative incidence of STIs, such as chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea or syphilis, which are a good marker for unsafe sexual activity, didn't increase among vaccinated teens compared with those who were not vaccinated.

Parents, be thankful there's an effective anti-cancer vaccine available for your children. Think about it: You can prevent them from getting cancer! So have them vaccinated before there's any risk of exposure to HPV: Boys and girls ages 11-12 are candidates for the three-dose series. Women (not previously HPV-vaccinated) up to age 26 and young men up to age 21 also can receive the vaccine; men who are gay, bisexual or HIV-positive are eligible to age 26.

© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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