VD Crusade 1919

At the turn of the century, several Federal agencies tried to halt the spread of venereal disease. This crusade intensified during WWI as these diseases threatened the health of soldiers and represented, to some, moral failure at home.

The U.S. Public Health Service and other agencies used measures, that some considered intrusive, to detect and stop the spread of venereal disease, like compulsory testing and quarantine of those “reasonably expected” of being infected. Women, usually prostitutes, were targeted disproportionately and forced to submit to testing and quarantine without bail. U.S. Attorney General T. W. Gregory declared, however, that the “constitutional right of the community, in the interest of public health” is cause for aggressive measures by the state.