Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common
It is the primary cause of nearly all cervical cancers. These
cancers kill 4,000 Americans each year and tens of thousands of
HPV vaccine can prevent infection and decreases the chances that
a woman will develop cervical cancer. Two such vaccines are on the
market. Both have proven highly effective. Still, some skeptics
raise questions about the best approach to HPV prevention. Concerns
include the following:
- The vaccine is not 100% effective. Even immunized women will
still need annual Pap smears.
- The vaccine is expensive. The series of three injections costs
about $390. Questions have been raised about the cost-effectiveness
of vaccination programs.
- It is not yet clear how long immunity lasts. A booster shot
might be necessary, increasing cost and possibly decreasing
- As with all vaccines, there are concerns about the safety of
We review data on the efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness
of the vaccine, as well as on some of the controversies about
whether or not it should be mandated.