What is HPV?
It is caught by being sexually active with another person who already has the virus.
Most women who get infected with HPV do not get cervical cancer. Women usually do not even know they have been infected because they have no symptoms.
The vaccine protects against the two types of virus that cause most cervical cancer but it doesn’t protect against all HPV viruses.
The virus gets into the surface cells of the cervix where it can stay for several years without causing any harm. Then, and for no apparent reason, it may start to cause damage to these cells. These changes can be detected by cervical screening (smear testing) and, if found early enough, can be treated to prevent cancer developing. If left untreated, cancer can develop and may lead to serious illness and death. There are over 100 types of HPV but only 13 of them are known to cause cancer.