Box 1.

Information provided to women about the HPV vaccination

What is HPV?
•Scientists have linked nearly all cases of cervical cancer to a common virus called HPV.
•HPV is a sexually transmitted infection.
•Most sexually active women will be infected with HPV at some point because it is very common.
•Usually, the virus does not cause any problems and clears up on its own.
•If HPV persists, it can cause changes in the cells of the cervix. These changes may lead to cancer if left untreated.
•Cervical screening (the smear test) is used to detect early cell changes in the cervix that are caused by HPV. Treating these cells prevents cancer developing.
•Some people may have heard that HPV causes genital warts. This is true, but the types of HPV that cause warts are different from the ones that cause cancer.
•New research is working towards developing a vaccine to prevent HPV infection. This might be available in 5 to 10 years time.
•An HPV vaccine could dramatically reduce the levels of cervical cancer.