Taking Chances

Place North & Central America: United States of America
Accession Number ARTV07536
Collection type Art
Measurement sheet: 22.8 x 20.4 cm [irregular]
Object type Poster
Physical description offset lithograph on paper
Maker Unknown
Social Hygiene Division
Place made United States of America
Date made 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Venereal disease prevention poster, presumably the ninth page of a book that has been torn out. Two black and white illustrations accompany the text - the one in the upper left corner is a soldier manning a machine gun - he is the man who took his chance in the 'big game' and won. The drawing in the lower right corner shows a smiling soldier accompanying a prostitute through a city street. Even though the war had ended, the complex task of demobilisation, and bringing the men home, meant that VD continued to be a threat. The posters produced by the Social Hygiene Division were a breakthrough in preventive medicine - previous to the war, venereal diseases were rarely discussed, and there were limited medical resources in the United States for the treatment of those suffering from them. At the beginning of the twentieth century venereal disease was a prevalent concern for social health organizations. The social stigma attached to these diseases prevented most people from discussing or addressing means of treatment. In 1913, at a conference in New York, several organizations dedicated to fighting prostitution and venereal disease joined together to form the American Social Hygiene Association (ASHA). The association was established to stop the venereal disease epidemic by educating the public about sexually transmitted infections, working to break down the social stigma attached to VD, and encouraging high moral standards. ASHA's early worked focused on education and awareness efforts within the armed forces. ASHA worked with the US War Department during the First World War when VD occurrences surged among soldiers. Their efforts included educating soldiers about venereal diseases and their transmission and attempting to eliminate prostitution, which was believed to be the primary vehicle for VD transmission among the armed forces. Due to its contribution to the war effort, ASHA gained national attention and succeeded in creating public awareness of VD.

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