Draft VD leaflet
The following text is a draft VD lealfet aimed at the LGBT community in the mid 1970s.
Birmingham Gay Education Group.
'What is VD ?'
For a start, VD is not a punishable sin it is a bacterial infection. A venereal disease is only caught through sexual contact with someone who has already got it; and not just through sexual intercourse - any close contact can pass-on infection. VD is not caught only by heterosexuals - homosexuals are just as likely to get it (men more so than women).
The two most common types of VD are gonorrhea (also known as 'clap' or 'a dose') and syphilis (also known as 'pox' or 'bad blood'), though there are many others. Catching a venereal disease is just like catching flu - both are highly infectious; but unlike flu VD does not clear up on its own. Although the first signs may disappear, left untreated
The germs live on, and spread throughout the body over a period of possibly years, and can cause pain, permanent damaged, or even death, though this is now uncommon as VD is quickly and easily cured if discovered early enough.
In women and gay men symptoms often go unnoticed. If you have the slightest suspicion that you have VD, or you have been in contact with someone you think may have it, then it is vital that you go for a check-up immediately.
'Could I have VD ?'
Anyone can catch VD, regardless of age, race, or sex - gay or het. As a homosexual or bisexual you can certainly catch it, so know what to look for.
Symptoms are many and varied and may first occur days, weeks or even months after having sex. Things to look out for are : sores; pain when peeing or crapping; subnormal discharge; swelling or irritation of the genitals, us or throat (after oral sex), These are the warning signs, but remember anal and vaginal infections often go unnoticed, so don't assume that you will know when you have got VD - you may not. Of course, this does not mean that you should go for a check-up every time you have sex with someone. If you start itching around the genitals then you may have just caught 'crabs' (pubic lice) which are very common. These are mites which you can see as small dark spots among your pubic hairs. They are harmless and easily removed with a special lotion or shampoo, for example, 'Quellada'. However if you have caught crabs, then you may have caught something else as well.
'So have I got VD or havenít I ?'
Trying to find out for yourself is not only unreliable it's also dangerous. Leave it to the staff of any VD ('Special') clinic. VD clinics are part of most major General Hospitals, and operate independent of family doctors. There is one in your area and no appointment is needed.
'I feel too ashamed to go to the clinic; what will they think of me - especially as I'm gay ?'
Having VD is nothing to be ashamed of being gay certainly isn't. The medical and nursing staff at the clinic are there for the purpose of treating VD. They deal with thousands of cases every year - both homosexual and heterosexual. You and your (suspected) VD will be nothing new to them.
'I still don't think I could go to the clinic.....'
Untreated VD can lead to blindness, deafness, heart disease, sterility and mental illness among other things. Can you afford not to go to the clinic? The earlier VD is discovered the easier it is to treat.
'What happens when I get there?'
You are asked your name and address - give it correctly; they may want to contact you urgently. You are given an appointment card and a case number. When this number(not your name) is called you see a doctor who will ask you a few questions. Answer them truthfully and tell the doctor you are gay - it helps them to help you. (Donít be afraid to ask questions as well if you would like to know more about VD). You are then given some simple tests which may include the taking of urine and blood samples, and penis, Vagina, anus or throat examinations.
'Is that all ?'
Yes. It's all very simple, fast and painless; and completely confidential - not even your family doctor is informed. The following week you return to the clinic to learn the results of any tests. Always attend all follow-up appointments; they are in your interest.
'What happens if I have got VD ?'
Should the results be positive you will be given the appropriate treatment as an out-patient. You will also be asked to give, wherever possible, the names and addresses of your sexual contacts. Do so if you can, for their sake and yours. VD spreads at an alarming rate - untreated, the results are horrific. Only by tracing contacts can it be controlled.
'How can I help stop the spread of VD ?'
Don't have sex with an infected person, and if you have caught something, don't pass it on. Prevention is better than cure, so don't encourage infection - wash regularly. (Also, avoid vaginal deodorants, they can do more harm than good; they may even cause irrigation). VD is reaching epidemic levels. No-one, is immune ó your friends are just as likely to have it as any strangers you might meet. So be on your guard and look out for the signs. If you think that someone you've met has got VD, then do yourself a favour- don't have sex, have a chat instead; and do them a favours - suggest they go for a check-up straight away. If you suspect that you have caught something, then again.- don't have sex. This would not only expose other people to the disease, but may cause the infection to spread further inside you, especially if sex included intercourse (anal or vaginal). Visit your local clinic and warn anyone you've had sex with recently to do likewise - they may be carrying infection without knowing it.
REMEMBER - the more people you have sex with, the more likely you are to catch VD; and as a gay person, you are less likely to know if you have caught it. So play safe and go for regular check-ups.
VD takes the fun out of sex - if you let it.
For further information on all aspects of homosexuality, ring London Gay Switchboard who can tell you where to find your local clinic. Ring 01-837 7324
Contributed by: Malcolm Gibb, 58