While sexually transmitted diseases are certainly a serious problem, the taboo topic has led to some amazing Public Safety Announcements, particularly the vintage venereal disease posters. Here are a few classic posters designed to help keep the men and women of America safe.
Post World War I
When the Allies won the war, the U.S. government had one last task for its troops: help fight VD back home. Presumably, the last thing they wanted soldiers to do was to come home and celebrate with a bunch of easy women. Of course, if the number of Depression-Era STD posters printed by the WPA are any indication, the “army’s fight against venereal disease” wasn’t very effective.
The Great Depression
I’ve talked a bit about the Works Progress Administration’s art projects before, but not all of the artists were hired to help promote travel. Instead, many artists were employed to create PSA-style posters warning about the dangers of venereal disease, encouraging everyone to get tested and for those who have a disease to get treated. For more great WPA VD posters, visit the Library of Congress’ massive photo archives.
By Richard Halls
World War II
The most famous VD posters come from WWII. The Allies had a hard time keeping young recruits away from women, both away and at home. If you can’t get enough though, take some time to search through the archives of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
By John Wyeth
As I’m sure you know, STDs didn’t just disappear after WWII. In fact, the government is still printing out tons of the posters, as well as paying for television and radio PSAs. That being said, those modern creations just don’t have the same entertainment value as these vintage posters. That’s why I’ll leave you with one post-WWII VD poster, this one from 1952: