Infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) has been associated with head and neck carcinomas. Experts in HPV-positive carcinomas consider these carcinomas to be a new entity, because it has been shown that treatment outcome is excellent with significantly longer overall survival dependent of therapy. Despite this, in Germany public awareness of this development is rather low. A strategy for prophylactic vaccination against HPV-associated diseases has been available since 2007 but only to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer for girls between 12 and 17 years of age. There is an ongoing debate in Germany about the efficacy and safety of HPV vaccination. The results of epidemiological research in the USA which show that vaccination in young males is valuable are still not accepted in Germany. This article discusses the scientific and public awareness regarding this topic and calls for precision in diagnostics and public health awareness in order to establish a fertile ground for prevention and optimal treatment of HPV-associated diseases.