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Out of Otherness

Characters and Narrators in the Dutch Venereal Disease Debates 1850-1990

Annet Mooij

From a punishment for the immoral acts of others, venereal disease has become a malady that may confront any one of us. This book examines the different stages in this long development and reveals the strange disjunction between waves of public anxiety and the factual incidence of disease, in this troubled overlap between medical science and social life. It describes the various efforts that have been made since 1850 to contain the hazard of sexually transmitted diseases and places the changing views on venereal infection in their historical and social context. The comparisons drawn between the late 19th-century battle against syphilis and present-day responses to the AIDS epidemic underscore the notable changes that have taken place not only in thinking about sexuality, but also in the authority of the medical profession and in the position of patients vis-à-vis policy-makers and all those involved in determining modes of treatment and prevention.