Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that causes cervical cancer and genital warts. Persistent infection with certain types of HPV can lead to cancer of the cervix, which affects more than 10,000 American women every year. HPV can also cause cancers of the vulva, vagina, and anus, although these cancers are much less common than cervical cancer.
Two vaccines (Gardasil® and Cervarix®) are available to prevent infection with several types of HPV known to cause cervical cancer. It is hoped that these vaccines will significantly reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and pre-cancer.
This article discusses human papillomavirus and the human papillomavirus vaccine. Articles that discuss cervical cancer, cervical cancer screening (Pap smears), and genital warts are also available.