July 12, 2017
By the end of World War I, nearly one million French soldiers had been admitted to the hospital, and more than 10,000 American soldiers had been discharged after hospital stays, not for battlefield injuries, but because they had contracted sexually transmitted infections. The average stay in a hospital for venereal disease (the more commonly used term at the time) lasted 50 to 60 days, valuable time that could be better spent on the war effort. Allied military leaders were in a bit of a pickle. They needed to address a public health crisis, but without appearing to condone what would be considered immoral behavior back home.