When the initial HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine was released in 2006, it was met with a large public outcry in the United States from concerned parents, pediatricians, and politicians. Their claim was that vaccinating pre-teen girls and boys would encourage riskier teen sexual behavior.
The thought was that the vaccine would give young adults a false sense of protective security, and thus encourage them to engage in riskier sexual activities (sex without a condom, higher number of partners, etc.). Researchers immediately began to structure studies that would investigate the claim, and several studies began across the nation.
The research conclusions were that there was no evidence suggesting a link in riskier teen sexual behaviors among vaccinated teens. Despite the clinical evidence, the idea of mandatory HPV vaccinations has stirred up considerable controversy throughout the nation. The predominantly cited reasons for adult opposition were that it was either not necessary for their child or that their child was not sexually active. Physicians have also expressed concern about discussing sexual activity and behavior with pre-teen patients.
Abstinence is still the predominately taught form of sexual education in the United States. HPV is predominately spread through sexual contact, meaning that the vaccination of preteen girls means acknowledging the potential of sexual activity in pre-teens and young adolescents at a legislative level. For many parents, politicians, and physicians this creates uncomfortable emotional responses and has led to a push within the United States to defer the recommended age of vaccination until somewhere in the teenage years.