victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 14 17:04:19 UTC 2011

You wrote earlier:

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.

I was suggesting that "VD" had to go because it did not sound /bad enough/
and did not link to the sex act. This is the sense in which I thought the
description was "opposite".

On the other hand, there was also a desire to remove the stigma and
encourage reporting. Your second point--that (not the VD itself but) "you
were loathsome" is in complete agreement with that.

Unfortunately, the net effect might not have been what was intended. A major
component of the message was that, other than AIDS and herpes, for a time,
these were treatable conditions. But the public interpretation muffed the
distinction between "treatable" and "curable" (which, in turn, made them all
look "less bad"). The same pattern had followed HIV and herpes, as therapies
developed to treat the symptoms--and, in the case of HIV, to delay the onset
of full-blown AIDS. The original VD posters from the 30s-60s had the same
message ("treatable"), but because of the stigma attached had little effect.
With the name change, treatment became seen as an option, but it also
reduced the perception of urgency of prevention.


On Sat, May 14, 2011 at 12:48 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 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.
> I think that's what I said, but the ironies of semantics are getting so
> dense that I may have said the opposite.
> Or perhaps I am getting thus.
> JL

The American Dialect Society -

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