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Department of Social Medicine, and Health Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.
This article presents an overview of the history of medical and public health responses to syphilis in the 20th-century United States and briefly evaluates the relevance and significance of these approaches for the AIDS epidemic. The parallels are numerous: they relate to science, public health, civil liberties, and social attitudes concerning sexually transmitted infection. The strengths and limits of past approaches to controlling sexually transmitted diseases are explored as a possible guide for AIDS policy.