What About Syphilis?
"A mysterious epidemic, hitherto unknown, which had struck terror into all hearts by the rapidity of its spread, the ravages it made, and the apparent helplessness of the physicians to cure it." This account could easily describe AIDS today. It refers instead to the sudden appearance of syphilis in the early sixteenth century. Significant parallels exist between the two diseases, ranging from issues of science and public health to civil liberties and social attitudes concerning sexually transmitted infection. Science writer Colman Jones uncovers what history can teach us about society's latest plague.