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Sex, Sin, and Sciences, Syphilis in America

University of Virginia. School of Medicine
Online; Online Video; Video
Filmed Lectures
Social and cultural factors, as well as biomedical ones, shape the way we understand and react to diseases. In the case of a disease associated with sex, social and cultural factors figure especially prominently in its history. Since moral and religious views influence almost everything connected with sex, including sexually transmitted infections (STI), syphilis can be an excellent case study to help us appreciate disease in a broader human context. This Medical Center Hour delves into the story of syphilis in America, from colonial times to the present; it looks back too at the origins and spread of the disease in Europe. How did medical science come to understand syphilis and develop treatments for it? What about public health protections against this socially stigmatized STI from prevention campaigns and quarantine of infected persons (usually, women only) to mandated reporting of infections? To what extent does syphilis's identity as an infection popularly associated with sex and sin complicate our response to it and to persons who contract and suffer with it? Finally, how might American social and cultural stigmas around syphilis have contributed to the intentions behind and conduct of the U.S. Public Health Service's unethical research studies at Tuskegee (1932-1972) and in Guatemala (1946-1948)? Co-presented with the History of the Health Sciences Lecture Series
University of Virginia. School of Medicine
Childress, Marcia Day
Parascandola, John, 1941-
Dillingham, Rebecca
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
Medical Center Hour
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The speakers in this presentation have given the University of Virginia permission to make it freely accessible online for all audiences to view. To request permission to reproduce, republish, and/or repost this presentation please contact the Historical Collections and Services Department of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library at the University of Virginia.
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