The ads would have you believe that the HPV virus is common (it is) and lurking to assault the unwary at every turn (it isn’t). I visited a web page where one woman wrote in to complain that the ads had convinced her that “catching” HPV was as simple as picking up a common cold. 
Why the sudden publicity about HPV? Simple. Merck, a pharmaceutical company, has developed Gardasil, a vaccine for four strains of the HPV virus, two of which cause 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. They can afford to spend advertising dollars—the vaccine, when it becomes available this fall, should cost between $350-500.
The fine print: in order for Gardasil to be effective, it should be administered before a woman becomes sexually active. A federal advisory panel recommended that the three-dose vaccine be given to all eleven and twelve year old girls. Never mind that the rate of cervical cancer is dropping; never mind that the virus is defeated by most people’s immune systems without causing any symptoms whatsoever.
Advocates of the vaccine want to vaccinate nearly four million girls in this country to prevent a cancer that will affect less than ten thousand American women this year. Yet there are more than 100 types of HPV, and Gardasil only protects against four. Other strains of HPV can cause other cancers. I would list them, but if you’re like me, you’re reading this over your breakfast.
 Dr. Joel McIlhaney, 1250 Health Care Questions Women Ask, Baker Books, 1985.
 Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, June 30, 2006, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/06/30/CERVICAL.TMP&type=health
 Calculated from US Census data—there are approx. 3,915,276 11-12 year old girls in this country.
 http://hpv.com/hpv-questions.html In 2006, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be about 9,710 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in the United States, and that about 3,700 women will die from the disease.
 http://hpv.com/hpv-questions.html : Does genital HPV cause any other diseases?
A: Yes, certain “high-risk” types of HPV can cause other cancers and consequences, including cancer of the vagina, vulva, and anus.