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'The easy girlfriend', poster, England, 1943-1944

Venereal diseases (VD) – or sexually transmitted infections as they are known today – were a big problem during the Second World War, posing a constant threat to the fighting strength of troops. The main venereal diseases, syphilis and gonorrhoea, were potentially very serious. Left untreated syphilis could result in blindness, insanity, paralysis and death. This striking poster was part of an anti-VD campaign in 1943-1944 and warns of the ‘easy’ girlfriend who can spread disease. It was designed by Reginald Mount (1906-79), anartist who produced a number of wartime posters for the British Ministry of Information.

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Glossary: poster

Notice, usually printed on paper, intended to be posted to advertise, promote, or publicise an activity, cause, product, or service; also, decorative, mass-produced prints intended for hanging.

Glossary: blindness

The inability to see light.

Glossary: syphilis

A sexually transmitted infection resulting in the formation of lesions throughout the body.

Glossary: sexually transmitted infection

Any disease transmitted by sexual intercourse. STIs include HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhoea, some chlamydia infections and genital herpes.

Glossary: paralysis

The loss of function in one or more muscle groups. It causes loss of mobility and feeling.

Glossary: gonorrhoea

A sexually transmitted infection that affects the genital membranes of either sex. Symptoms include a yellowish discharge from the genitals.

Glossary: venereal disease

Historical term for diseases transmitted by sexual intercourse, most notably syphilis and gonorrhoea. Now referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs)