This book reveals the ever-present challenges of patient care at the forefront of medical knowledge. Syphilis and gonorrhoea played upon the public imagination in Victorian and Edwardian England, inspiring fascination and fear. Seemingly inextricable from the other great ‘social evil’, prostitution, these diseases represented contamination, both physical and moral. They infiltrated respectable homes and brought terrible suffering and stigma to those afflicted. Medicine, Knowledge and Venereal Diseases takes us back to an age before penicillin and the NHS, when developments in pathology, symptomology and aetiology were transforming clinical practice. This is the first book to examine systematically how doctors, nurses and midwives grappled with new ideas and laboratory-based technologies in their fight against venereal diseases in voluntary hospitals, general practice and Poor Law institutions. It opens up new perspectives on what made competent and safe medical professionals; how these standards changed over time; and how changing attitudes and expectations affected the medical authority and autonomy of different professional groups.
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