White girls don’t have sex: The middle class lie on HPV that puts teens at risk

NZ Herald 15 March 2015
Parents of well-off Pakeha girls are less likely to get their daughters immunised against an STI because “white girls don’t have sex”, a Massey University PhD candidate believes.

Postgraduate researcher Karen Page, of the university’s College of Health, is trying to establish why New Zealand’s vaccination rates for human papillomavirus (HPV) are lower for Pakeha than other ethnicities, and also lower in high-decile schools than those in poorer communities.

Page believes that many parents think their daughters don’t need it because they’re not having sex.

“It’s the ‘white girls don’t have sex [theory] so white girls don’t need it’. That’s what it’s all about, I think,” she told the Herald on Sunday.

About half of New Zealand 15-year-olds were sexually active and, at some point in their lives, about 80 per cent of adults would get the sexually transmitted infection.

HPV causes almost all cervical cancer in this country and can cause genital warts, but most women who develop the virus clear it naturally.