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March 1982

Laws Mandating Premarital Serologic Tests for Syphilis Should Be Repealed

Author Affiliations

Brooklyn, NY

Arch Dermatol. 1982;118(3):145-146. doi:10.1001/archderm.1982.01650150007009

The years just before and after World War II saw a proliferation of antisyphilitic programs in the United States because of the phenomenal increase in the incidence of syphilis noted in the military and civilian populations preceding and during the war. Thus, although Congress had passed the May Act in July 1941 to try to prevent persons from engaging in and abetting prostitution within certain limits of military establishments, the War Department went further. Working through the Federal Security Agency, it ordered the enlistment of civilian authorities and referred problem areas to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.1 There was good reason for these measures. With the deployment of GIs abroad and their return home to the United States, the number of civilian cases of infectious primary and secondary syphilis soared from 68,231 in 1941 to 106,539 in 1947.2 In terms of the numbers of cases and the related

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