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Watercolour illustration of a syphilis sore, England, 1891-1920

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. The first stage of the disease is the development of a sore like that shown in this illustration. This image shows the sore before treatment and was probably used as a teaching aid to help doctors to recognise the symptoms of syphilis and try and treat the disease before it caused permanent damage to the body.

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Glossary: watercolour

Artists' paints made with pigment to be diluted with water and not oil.

Glossary: genito-urinary medicine

The branch of medicine dealing with the genital and urinary organs.

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.