The syphilis epidemic and its relation to AIDS

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Science  22 Jan 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4838, pp. 375-380
DOI: 10.1126/science.3276007


This article presents an overview of the history of medical and public health responses to syphilis in the 20th-century United States and briefly evaluates the relevance and significance of these approaches for the AIDS epidemic. The parallels are numerous: they relate to science, public health, civil liberties, and social attitudes concerning sexually transmitted infection. The strengths and limits of past approaches to controlling sexually transmitted diseases are explored as a possible guide for AIDS policy.