DOI link for Medical Bacteriology
Medical Bacteriology book
This chapter sketches the contours of the pre-AIDS history, one which has languished in the shadow of HIV and has received relatively little attention from historians. It presents interim findings from an on-going historical study of venereal disease (VD) – the term often employed before 1980 for infections spread through sexual contact – and sexual health among men who had sex with men. An awareness that same-sex sexual practices could communicate infection circulated within European medical and forensic communities – and among those men unfortunate enough to become so infected – as early as the 1490s. The 1930s and 1940s brought increased political and public health scrutiny to non-normative forms of sex, through a retrenchment of gender conformity during the Great Depression, enhanced VD prevention drives, and a heightened attention to commercialized sexuality amid mobilization for war. In many cases the availability of antibiotics reduced patients' concern about VD, and gay-run clinics succeeded in diminishing the stigma associated with infections.