Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Women Misinformed About HPV-Cancer Link

Media Coverage of HPV Testing Blurs Cervical Cancer Link
WebMD Health News

Dec. 3, 2003 -- Few women have heard of the most common sexually transmitted disease, and even if they have they are probably misinformed.

New research shows that women are confused about the link between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, and recent media coverage of HPV has only added to that confusion.

Two studies in the Jan. 15 issue of Cancer highlight the gaps in women's knowledge about HPV and assess the media's job of covering the common sexually transmitted disease (STD).

What Women Don't Know About HPV

Researchers say that in the last decade it's become clear that about 20 of the suspected 230 different types of HPV are considered high risk due to their association with cervical cancer. In addition, the HPV types associated with genital warts are now considered low risk because they are rarely associated with cervical cancer.

But the results of eight focus groups with 48 ethnically diverse women show that there are still serious gaps in women's knowledge about the link between HPV and cervical cancer. Most of the women in the study had reported that they had never heard of HPV. Researchers found that in women who were aware of the association between the virus and cervical cancer, most overestimated the likelihood that women infected with HPV would develop cervical cancer, and few were aware that HPV infection often goes away on its own without treatment.

Many women were also confused that Pap smear results could be normal even if HPV was present, and most women were focused on the fact that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease rather than its potential to cause cancer.

Media Coverage of HPV

In the second study, researchers analyzed the content of 111 new stories about HPV from the 10 most circulated newspapers and the major broadcast television networks from January 1995 through July 2002.

Researchers found 36% of the stories were about new genetic tests for HPV, 30% of the stories focused on cervical cancer or its link to HPV, and 27% emphasized sexually transmitted diseases or genital warts.

The study showed that many stories failed to include basic information about HPV that women in the first study expressed interest in knowing, which heightens their anxiety about the condition.

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror