The majority of cervical cancers result when the human papillomavirus (HPV) is transmitted from a man to a woman during vaginal intercourse. Several factors, including vaginal intercourse at an early age or with multiple sex partners, place women at increased risk for infection with HPV. It is important for physicians to be aware of these risk factors and to screen for them in all of their female patients. It is also important for physicians to be familiar with the new HPV vaccinations that are becoming available, such as Gardasil, which in June 2006 became the first vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to protect patients against cervical cancer. The widespread use of routine HPV screening and cervical cancer vaccines can be expected to decrease the incidence of new HPV infection and cervical cancer worldwide.