victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 14 16:47:25 UTC 2011

A radical concept of checking Wiki confirmed my description, but otherwise
helped little:

Public health officials originally introduced the term sexually transmitted
> infection, which clinicians are increasingly using alongside the
> term sexually transmitted disease in order to distinguish it from the
> former. According to the Ethiopian Aids Resource Center FAQ, "Sometimes the
> terms STI and STD are used interchangeably. This can be confusing and not
> always accurate, so it helps first to understand the difference between
> infection and disease. Infection simply means that a germ--virus, bacteria,
> or parasite--that can cause disease or sickness is present inside a person’s
> body. An infected person does not necessarily have any symptoms or signs
> that the virus or bacteria is actually hurting his or her body; they do not
> necessarily feel sick. A disease means that the infection is actually
> causing the infected person to feel sick, or to notice something is wrong.
> For this reason, the term STI--which refers to infection with any germ that
> can cause an STD, even if the infected person has no symptoms--is a much
> broader term than STD.

And, yes, STI was introduced to clarify that it's an "infection"--meaning
that one could be infected and not know it long before symptoms could
develop (not to mention the Typhoid Mary problem). So, yes, this change was
clearly related to AIDS more than any other infection. One side effect,
however, has been that gonorrhea has actually become more widespread and
almost accepted because 1) it was not considered as bad as AIDS/HIV and 2)
it was curable. In fact, the STD/STI shift has followed the change in
related literature from AIDS to HIV or even "AIDS/HIV" to emphasize the
infection rather than the symptoms. In addition, "VD" was primarily a
description of syphilis and gonorrhea, as well as some parasites and, later,
genital herpes, while STD/STI also added chlamydia, HPV in all its
incarnations and unambiguously included AIDS.


On Sat, May 14, 2011 at 12:28 PM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

> 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.
> VS-)
> 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

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