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December 2, 1974

Syphilis Then and Now

JAMA. 1974;230(9):1320-1321. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240090058035

THE conclusion of 40 years as chief of the Syphilis Clinic at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston seems to justify a brief note on the changes in treatment as well as the change in the type of disease seen in this statesupported clinic. Also, a major alteration in the epidemiological viewpoint has developed during these years. Actually, with the addition of Peter Bent Brigham Hospital internship five years earlier and the intensive introduction to syphilography under Dr. Allan K. Poole while I was a resident in the New Haven Hospital, my experience really covers almost every form of therapy since the Middle Ages—from mercury and potassium iodide to oral antibiotics.

Originally, arsphenamine was given by intravenous drip, each treatment requiring nearly an hour, with the intravenous courses alternated with mercury rubs, or by intramuscularly given mercuric succinamide. Mercury rubs were hated by the patients because of the inevitable