Nearly every woman who contracts cancer of the cervix is also infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, many women with HPV don't get cervical cancer.
Scientists are trying to figure out why some of these infections lead to the cancer. They now report that if a woman has genital herpes in addition to HPV, her risk of cervical cancer nearly doubles.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, infecting roughly 24 million people. The virus comes in more than 60 types, yet most HPV infections go unnoticed. Some types of HPV cause only genital warts, or papillomas, which are unrelated to herpes. Two other types, HPV 16 and 18, are linked to cervical cancer.