Long-term infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause of cervical cancer and its precursor - cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). The presence of HPV infection can be presumed in more than 99% of cases of cervical cancer worldwide. The introduction of DNA testing for the presence of HPV has increased the effectiveness of screening programs for the detection of this cancer. This article contains the latest reports on the structure, function and role of HPV in the development of cervical cancer. It was also underlined the importance of performing molecular tests for the presence of HPV DNA as a more sensitive and the most accurate method of detecting the threat posed by infection with this oncovirus. The review also highlights the most beneficial prophylactic algorithm, which should be guided by gynecologists during the diagnosis, individual clinical cases.