"Fool the Axis—use Prophylaxis!


Over at Collectors Weekly, a look at the US military's terrific World War II-era posters about the dangers of venereal disease.

From the article by Hunter Oatman-Stanford:

The federal government began its VD campaign in the 1930s aiming to reduce infections that might affect our ability to win the war. "On any given day during World War I, there were approximately 18,000 men who were taken ill with VD," (VD poster expert Ryan) Mungia explains. "So when we started gearing up for the next major war, the U.S. military launched a pretty aggressive propaganda campaign including posters, pamphlets, and films to try to curb those numbers and keep soldiers healthy and able to fight." At the time, most recruits were poorly informed about sexual health, and since strong antibiotics like penicillin weren't widely available until the '40s, the most common sexually transmitted infections—syphilis and gonorrhea—posed a much more serious threat than they do today.

Although the campaign initially drew inspiration from advertisements created by the Works Progress Administration (Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal jobs program), the military tried several approaches to reach young men, ranging from comic-book style pamphlets to realistic public-service announcements.

"How the Military Waged a Graphic-Design War on Venereal Disease"