The predominant cause of cervical cancer in women is infection with Human Papilloma Virus. And CC occurs almost exclusively in women who are or have been sexually active.
There are 4 types of HPV that are considered to be high risk for causing cervical cancer, subtypes 16, 18, 45 and 56, and various other types are considered intermediate or low risk for CC, but can cause genital warts.
By age 35, 60% of sexually active women have acquired HPV infection of the genital tract, including the vulva. The infection is in most cases symptomless, and disappears within a few months.
Condoms offer some, but not total protection from HPV(but from lots of other STI’s !), because the transmission is genital skin to genital skin, and condoms don’t cover all of that area. If the body’s immune system doesn’t clear HPV from the body, persistent infection can occur, and in the area of the cervix this can cause the formation of abnormal cells, which can lead to cancer if not picked up in time on a PAP smear.
There has been a HPV vaccine available in Australia since 2007, and it protects against the cancer-causing HPV subtypes 16 and 18, as well as against the subtypes 6 and 11, that cause the majority of genital warts. Under the product name of Gardasil, it is available free of charge to girls and women from age 12-26, and has to be administered in three doses during a 6-month period. It is approved for women 9-45, but if you are outside the 12-26 age bracket, you will have to pay for it(roughly 450.-AUD). The vaccine is also approved for use in males age 9-26, however there is no formal recommendation for vaccination in males as of yet.
The vaccine has been administered to millions of young women worldwide by now, and no significant adverse effects beyond what would be statistically expected, have been discovered. In particular reports of infertility after Gardasil administration are pure fear-mongering, and a myth.
The Cancer Council of Australia has launched a new website, to help to educate and inform parents of young women about HPV transmission and the vaccine, because they found in a survey that the current percentage of vaccinated women is only around 75%, and that many were not aware of the nature of transmission, which is by sexual contact.
By the way, men should also have a vested interest in women receiving this vaccine, since it has been suggested that HPV is becoming a major contributor to cases of oral and throat cancer in men, mainly due to oral sex practices, overtaking the previous main causes like alcohol and tobacco:
 led a study published in May 2007 that suggested people who had oral sex wit 5 or more partners during their lifetime had a much greater chance of having throat cancer and that the cause was most likely to be a well known strain of HPV.