Over the past few decades, epidemiology and natural history studies have led to improved understanding of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and to promising prevention strategies. HPV infection is the cause of anogenital warts and cervical cancer, as well as a proportion of other anogenital and head and neck cancers. Data from clinical trials have resulted in recommendations that support the use of an HPV test in the context of cervical cancer screening and management. Prophylactic HPV vaccine trials have demonstrated high efficacy, and an HPV vaccine that prevents cervical cancer precursors, cervical cancer, and anogenital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 was licensed for use in girls and women aged 9-26 years by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2006. In this article, we review genital HPV for the clinician, with a primary focus on the prevalence of HPV infection in the United States.