So what is HPV? The human papillomavirus. "This vaccine came out to protect women against certain strains of HPV that are associated with cervical cancer," Dr. Northrup says. "That vaccine is of great interest to me because there are over 100 different HPV types and this vaccine only targets four of them."
Dr. Northrup says only 3,500 women a year die of cervical cancer. "And the number decreases every year, so we're doing very well with Pap smears and other screening tests. So you should keep having those," she says.
But Dr. Northrup has some apprehension about the vaccine itself. "I'm very concerned about vaccinating girls 9 and over, every single one of them, with two vaccines," she says. "And I'm a little against my own profession. My own profession feels that everyone should be vaccinated."
Dr. Northrup would rather see the attention HPV is receiving directed elsewhere. "Where I'd put my money is getting everybody on a dietary program that would enhance their immunity," she says.