//The History of STDs

The History of STDs

The STD epidemic shouldn’t be restricted to right this moment’s youth – oh no. Some STDs (and their painful, scientifically doubtful remedies) date again a number of tons of of years. Let’s check out a number of the older ones and the myths about them that induced some fairly unorthodox remedies all through the historical past of STDs:


Herpes has been round since historical Greek instances – the truth is, we owe the Greeks for the identify, which roughly means “to creep or crawl” – presumably a reference to the unfold of pores and skin lesions. Though native STD testing wasn’t out there till lengthy after the virus was recognized in 1919, early civilisations may see that it was an actual drawback – the Roman emperor Tiberius launched a ban on kissing at public occasions to try to curb the unfold. Not a lot is understood about early makes an attempt to deal with the illness, however be grateful you were not round throughout the doctor Celsus’ experimental section: he advocated that the sores be cauterised with a scorching iron!

The issue actually by no means went away – Shakespeare referred to herpes as “blister plagues”, implying the extent of the epidemic. One widespread perception on the time was that the illness was brought on by insect bites, which looks like an apparent rationalization given the sores that the sexually transmitted illness creates.


Mercury was the treatment of alternative for syphilis within the center ages – the understanding of the sexually transmitted illness’s routes and this remedy gave delivery to the expression: “An evening within the arms of Venus results in a lifetime on Mercury”. This was administered orally or through direct contact with the pores and skin, although some of the unlikely strategies concerned fumigation, the place the affected person was positioned in a closed field with solely their head poking out. The field contained mercury and a hearth was began beneath it inflicting it to vaporise. It wasn’t massively efficient, however was very, very uncomfortable. As a result of Syphilis sores generally tend to fade on their very own after some time, many individuals believed they had been cured by nearly any treatment within the STD’s historical past!

Because the sexually transmitted illness grew to become higher understood, the power to remedy it elevated. In 1908, the arsenic based mostly drug Salvarsan was developed and, whereas not 100% efficient, was a large step ahead. Its lack of effectiveness within the tertiary section of the STD led to a different illness getting used as a remedy: malaria. As a result of it appeared that these with excessive fevers might be cured of syphilis, malaria was used to induce an preliminary fever, which was thought-about a suitable danger as a result of malaria might be handled with quinine. Penicillin ultimately confined each these remedies to STD historical past.


Earlier than the times of native STD testing, Gonnorhea was typically mistaken for Syphilis, as and not using a microscope, the 2 had very related signs and had been typically silent. After all, should you had been “identified” with the illness, you had been in for an unlucky remedy. In keeping with some, the syringes discovered aboard the Mary Rose was designed to inject liquid mercury down the urethra of an crew affected by the illness. By the nineteenth century, silver nitrate was a broadly used drug, later to get replaced by Protargol. A colloidal silver changed this, and was broadly used till antibiotics got here to the rescue within the Nineteen Forties.

So should you assume that native STD testing and remedy is a painful course of now, give a thought to the poor of us who had mercury or arsenic remedy all these years in the past – and thank God for antibiotics!