Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a public health problem as a sexually transmitted disease and as a critical factor in the pathogenesis of various cancers. The clinical manifestations, epidemiology, and virology that are critical to understanding the process of cervical dysplasia and neoplasia are reviewed. A discussion of the cervical transformation zone and the classification of cervical dysplasia and neoplasia leads into the importance of the Papanicolaou smear in prevention of potentially devastating sequelae of this virus. The role of the immune system in the progression of the disease and how it relates to vaccines, as well as treatment and prevention of HPV, are reviewed.
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