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ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America

Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America

by John Parascandola
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Social and cultural factors, as well as medical ones, help to shape the way we understand and react to diseases. In the case of a disease associated with sex, social and cultural factors figure especially large in its history. For example, moral and religious views influence almost everything connected with sex, and that includes sexually transmitted diseases. Syphilis thus provides an excellent case study to help understand the history of disease in a broader human context. This book covers the history of syphilis in America, from Colonial times to the present, as well as laying bare the origins and spread of the disease in Europe.

Several themes explored in the book illustrate ways in which non-medical factors influence our views of a disease and our reaction to it. One of these themes is the tendency to focus blame for the spread of a disease on a particular group (e.g., women, blacks, sinners). The balance between protecting the rights of individuals and protecting the public health, in issues such as whether to quarantine the infected and whether to require mandatory testing for the disease, is another theme. A third theme is the persistent reluctance of many Americans to discuss venereal disease openly because it involves sex, a subject that we are often not comfortable talking about.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780275994303
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/30/2008
Series: Healing Society: Disease, Medicine, and History Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

John Parascandola is a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Maryland. He has served as Chief of the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine, after which he became the Public Health Service Historian, a position he held until his retirement in 2004. He is also the author of The Development of American Pharmacology: John J. Abel and the Shaping of a Discipline (1992).

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The Great Pox: Origins and European Background

Chapter 2. A Secret Disease: Syphilis in America Before the First World War

Chapter 3. Continence is Not Incompatible with Health: Syphilis in World War I

Chapter 4. Congress Apparently Thought the Spirochetes of Syphilis Were Demobilized: The Interwar Years

Chapter 5. Fool the Axis Use Prophylaxis: Syphilis in World War II

Chapter 6. Magic in the Form of Penicillin: Syphilis in America Since World War II

Chapter Notes


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