Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sat May 14 22:41:41 UTC 2011

It's not that ridiculous. Maintaining a distinction between infection and
disease is useful. Many infections never progress to any symptoms at all,
HPV is a good example. Some people get sick as a result of the infection,
but most live long and healthy lives completely unaware that they're
infected. But because they are carriers and might become sick, treating the
infection (or better yet, vaccination) is important.

HIV/AIDS is another case. AIDS is a syndrome, defined as the presence of
certain symptoms. There is a long latency period after infection where the
person does not have AIDS. And there is a very small number of people who do
not develop the disease at all.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2011 4:52 PM
Subject: Re: STI

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
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list