A new study confirms that young women who get a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine do not engage in riskier sexual behavior as a result of it. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S. and a major cause of cervical cancer. Researchers gathered information from 339 participants about their demographics, knowledge and attitudes about HPV vaccination, and sexual behaviors. A survey collected information on the young women’s perceptions of the risk of getting an STI other than HPV, and their views about the need to engage in safer sex. Young 13-to-21-year-old women completed surveys immediately after receiving the HPV vaccine, and then 2 and 6 months later. This new research reiterates the finding that the HPV vaccine does not lead youth to become sexually active or engage in risky sexual behaviors.
Journal of Pediatrics, February 2014
Despite almost 20 years of work to achieve gender equity in health research, women remain critically under-represented in clinical studies. A new report by the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health & Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital highlights the extent of this under-representation’s negative impact on women’s health. Noting that it “is now clear that men and women experience illness differently,” the study explored four diseases where this is particularly true: cardiovascular disease (CVD), lung cancer, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Findings include the fact that, although CVD is the leading cause of death among U.S. women, only 31% of CVD clinical trials that include women report outcomes by sex. Including women in clinical trials and analyzing results by gender are important to discover more about these diseases, and understand variations between genders in drug safety and efficacy. The authors make specific recommendations to ensure that research on sex and gender differences must become the norm in order to achieve health equity “and improve the health and well-being of all.”
Charting the Course: A National Policy Summit on the Future of Women’s Health, March 2014
Smoking during pregnancy and postpartum is associated with numerous health risks for the woman, her developing fetus, and the newborn child. In contrast, there are many benefits to quitting smoking either during pregnancy or immediately after bearing a child. But, quitting smoking is extremely hard, and not every method is effective. A new literature review examined the effectiveness of programs designed to help pregnant women quit smoking, including counseling-based interventions, educational materials, nicotine replacement therapy, peer support, and multi-component interventions.. Researchers reviewed the outcomes of 59 studies published in the last 14 years, including a total of more than 500,000 women participants. They concluded that the multi-component approaches are the most successful in helping women quit smoking and stay smoke-free. The most effective efforts were woman-centered and tailored to the participant’s individual, specific situations.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, February 2014