By Tom Dare
A BIZARRE AMERICAN public health commercial from the 1970s featuring a seemingly upbeat song about sexually transmitted diseases has resurfaced this week.
Footage from the commercial, designed to warn the public about the dangers of VD (Venereal Diseases, referred to today as STDs) sees everyday members of the public going about their business while a song warning that anyone could have VD plays in the background.
People of all ages and social classes feature in the minute-long video, with lyrics from the song warning that “VD is for everybody, not just for the few.”
The commercial, which was released around the mid-1970s by the American Social Health Association, was meant as a tongue-in-cheek way of informing people that STDs could be transmitted by anyone, regardless of who they were.
It was in part a response to the liberalism of the 1960s, which saw a sexual revolution emerge from the United States and sweep across the rest of the Western world.
Ideas and approaches to sexuality and sex in general were drastically altered, with young people being encouraged to go out and ‘find themselves’ in a way in which they had never been able to before.
Medical advances such as the introduction of the pill as a contraceptive agent for women, coupled with the emerging gay rights movement, meant that the ‘swinging sixties’ saw young people granted freedoms to explore subjects which had been considered taboo by older generations.
The 1960s also brought with it advances in the treatment of STDs, with antibiotics meaning that the vast majority were easily treatable. However much of the population took this to mean that STDs were no longer something to be concerned about, meaning incidents of STDs began to become more common.
It was only towards the end of the 1960s that the importance of tracing somebody’s sexual partners was identified by medical professionals, resulting in public campaigns such as this one to encourage people to speak to their doctors with any questions or concerns they had.