victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 14 16:28:28 UTC 2011

My understanding was just the opposite. VD as an initialism had to go
because "Venerial disease" had to go because it was both too elliptical
and--if someone did bother to figure out what it meant--suggested something
that might have been inevitably related to love--as opposed to being related
to sex. The distinction between STD and STI is more refined, but, again, was
deliberate, to emphasize the infectious nature of the ... --what's the
word?--well, infections.

It might have been a post-hoc justification, but the change was driven by
"public health professionals" and government organizations. I can't tell who
made the actual decision to do this or who was the engine behind the change,
but the transition was fairly swift. A natural process would have taken much
longer. The change was sudden in public health pamphlets that you often find
in a doctor's office next to the fine literature in the waiting room,
particularly in college clinics. Government and AMA-sponsored PSA also used
new language. I would say the generations born after 1980 never heard of
"VD" after they reached school age. If my timeline is correct, it would
suggest a relationship with acknowledgement of AIDS. The change to STI is
much more recent and less enforced.


On Sat, May 14, 2011 at 7:00 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at>wrote:

> My understanding was that "VD" had to go because it sounded like something
> bad. I mean morally bad. If you had "VD" you were loathsome. (And remember,
> God knows what "venereal" means, unless you're a radical Whorfian and
> deduce
> the whole phrase is a slur on  sex, love, and Venus.)
> But with an "STD" you're not loathsome. You're just unlucky, and you
> maintain that great self-esteem!  People respect you.
> And with an "STI," you're already almost well!
> JL

The American Dialect Society -

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