VD Is for Everybody
April 16, 2008
Did you know that before the 1990’s, sexually transmitted diseases were called venereal diseases or just VD? The word “venereal” comes from the Latin word venereus, meaning of or from Venus, the Roman goddess of love. At one point in time, it may have made sense to use the phrase “venereal disease” to refer to diseases that you can get from lovemaking or sex. But many people were clueless about what the word “venereal” meant, so they never understand that a VD is sexually transmitted!
In the 1990’s, there was a major focus on improving sexual health, especially preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. Public health officials started to use the phrase “sexually transmitted disease” instead of “venereal disease.” So now when we call diseases, like herpes or HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, it’s clear that they’re transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.
Check out this old public service announcement from 1969 on VD. The message is that ANYONE can get a sexually transmitted disease—guys and girls of all ages and backgrounds. But if you don’t know what VD is, you’ll totally miss the message. And, you’d probably think VD was something you’d want to get, after looking at the happy people and listening to the song’s catchy tune.