VENEREAL DISEASES by R.S. Norton
Pelican paperback, 35p.
This was described recently in the Evening Standard as a new book. Well it’s not. The book was written ten years ago and reflects the moral attitudes of the medical profession at that time, although trying to hide them in long clinical terminology.
Degrading references, as usual, that V.D. can even be transmitted from man to man and the queer assumption that passive homosexuals, who play the role of the woman in a homosexual partnership, sometimes get rectal infections. Some of the more obvious moral attitudes can be seen clearly as with the warning to parents that the home is the location for sex, with 50 per cent of boys and 43 per cent of girls, and that hazarding the potential good name and happiness of their offspring by giving too much liberty, too early, has no place in their ideas of an adequate upbringing.
As a history book it is interesting – to find out that the first recorded reference to the clap was in 1378 and the pox in 1530; slaves with VD from Africa mixing with the home grown variety from southern America; to find that St Denis is the patron saint of syphillitics, and details about the introduction of blood test diagnoses in 1906, and the use of penicillin from 1943.
The addition of more recent statistics to an old book does not add to its relevance today, and it must be viewed in this light.
The most recent reference is 1970 and does not include any information about the more resistant strains, or their cure, which have made their insidious way from South East Asia. As a history book, OK, but I think a new one would have been more worthwhile than trying to revamp existing material. For now VD is the world’s second most common disease next to measles.