This talk by Dr Kevin Brown is second in the series Prostitution, Pimping and Trafficking, curated by Deborah Lavin.
From the time syphilis was first recognised in 1485, the medical consensus believed women were the vector of infection; and that they suffered syphilis in a milder form than men. While symptoms were treated, prevention centred on controlling prostitution. The 16th and 17th centuries saw continual attempts to suppress brothels and bathhouses, while in the 19th century the policy changed from suppression to regulation of prostitution and the state licensing of brothels both in Europe and through the Contagious Diseases Acts in Britain and the Empire. Gendered attitudes to prostitution, which saw women as the sources of infection, continued to inform the health debate through the First and Second World Wars, well into the age of the bobby-soxers and beyond.
Dr Kevin Brown, was educated at Hertford College, Oxford and University College London and is a professional archivist and museum curator at the Alexander Fleming Museum and Imperial College, specialising in the history of medicine. In constant demand as a lecturer, his written work includes Penicillin Man: Alexander Fleming and the Antibiotic Revolution, The Pox: the Life and Near Death of a Very Social Disease, Fighting Fit: Health Medicine and War in the Twentieth Century, Poxed and Scurvied: The Story of Sickness and Health and Passage to the World: The Emigrant Experience.
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