HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus, which is a common sexually transmitted infection that affects both men and women. In women, HPV can cause abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina), which can lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. However, not all women with HPV will develop cervical cancer, as the body’s immune system can often clear the infection on its own.
There are many different types of HPV, and some are more likely to cause cervical cancer than others. The HPV vaccine is available to protect against the most common types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, and regular Pap tests can help detect abnormal changes in the cervix early, when they are most treatable. It’s important for women to talk to their healthcare provider about HPV, cervical cancer screening, and the HPV vaccine.