Medicine: VD: A National Emergency

The global outbreak of syphilis and gonorrhea spawned by World War II came as no surprise to the medical world. Over the past five centuries, there had been massive flare-ups of venereal disease—the worst of them during wartime.* But the World War II epidemic was cut short by the 1945 discovery that both diseases could be cured by penicillin. The numbers of new cases reported annually in the U.S. declined through the 1950s and early 1960s, and venereologists hoped that the twin scourges would soon be wiped out.

Spectacular Rise. In recent years, however, venereal disease has been making a comeback. In...

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