Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a family of viruses which cause a range of serious diseases including cervical cancer and mouth cancer. There are more than 40 types of HPV. Some of the strains also cause genital warts. Before vaccination started in 2009, HPV was the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK.
In the UK in 2015, there were 3126 new cases of cervical cancer. In 2016, 854 women in the UK died from cervical cancer (see Cancer Research UK's cervical cancer statistics ). Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women who are 15 to 34 years old. Unlike the majority of cancers, it is mainly a disease of the young, with 62% of cases occurring in women who are less than 50 years old.
Cervical cancer is also a major issue worldwide. In 2012 there were an estimated 266,000 deaths from cervical cancer (about one every two minutes), and 87% of these occurred in less developed regions of the world.