What is human papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 types. Around 40 of these viruses infect the genital area of men and women. It is a very common infection that may affect any woman who has been sexually active. Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own.

Some of these viruses are called "high-risk" types and may lead to cancer of the cervix. Others are called "low-risk" types and they may cause genital warts. HPV infection is now regarded as a necessary but not a sole factor for cervical cancer.