Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 14 20:51:34 UTC 2011

Isn't it a new ridiculous notion that a disease isn't really a "disease"
unless symptoms (I think that's another proscribed word) are apparent to a

In other words, Magic Johnson's HIV isn't a "disease" because he looks and
feels fine. It's "just" an infection. But twenty years ago, when he was
diagnosed, everybody still foolishly thought he had a disease. How wrong
they were! (By current PR/PC standards, of course.)

I will assume that part of the difference is that you feel happy and
peppy with an "infection" but scared and miserable with a "disease."

Of course, there are certain medical conditions which are not infections
but, for the moment, are still diseases.  These, I suppose, are now simply
called "conditions."  So you're not scared and miserable. In theory.

So perhaps very soon we'll live at last in a world without disease.


On Sat, May 14, 2011 at 1:04 PM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       victor steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: STI
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.
> VS-)
> 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
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