A whopping 6 percent of all ailments treated in the trenches of World War I were STDs, and without antibiotics to cure the diseases, the impact was fairly grim. In the course of that war, soldiers lost seven million person-days, and the Army was forced to discharge more than 10,000 men for, again, discharge-related reasons.
By World War II, the military wasn't playing around anymore. Seeing as they couldn't eradicate venereal disease with tanks, bombs, or some kind of Dirty Dozen-esque raid, they instead deployed an arsenal of "penis propaganda." Working with the U.S. Public Health Service and the Federal Security Agency, the surgeon general created dozens of posters which featured attractive women warning soldiers about the many dangers of digging in their trenches.
U.S. Public Health Service
The male's role in spreading VD is curiously underplayed.
So did it work? Sort of. According to the U.S. Army's Office of Medical History, "the lowest venereal disease rates in the U.S. Army occurred during 1943 and [...] the rates began to rise in 1944, further increased in 1945, and showed marked increases after the cessation of hostilities." So not a raging success story. But speaking of things which weren't raging any more, thanks to advancements in treatment and the STD atom bomb known as "penicillin," by the end of the war, days missed due to illness hit an all-time low.
Yeah! Now who's the "great" war, World War I?
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