AAHM: Day One

Well, I’m here at the AAHM meeting in Rochester, NY taking a bit of a break from sessions to write something about the first full day of events. I drove here yesterday, hoping to get here in time for the Sigerist Circle panel at 2pm. Unfortunately, I miscalculated (took 6 hours not five!) so missed nearly all of it. From what I heard it was a great session. If anyone reads this and wants to comment, please do so here!

Last night was the opening reception and the sponsors were really generous with the food — including lots of shrimp, oysters, and crab. Stuffed myself as usual. I tried to listen to the opening plenary session on Mind Body Medicine by Anne Harrington. Unfortunately, I was too tired from the driving, and had too much wine at the reception, to focus on the lecture so left after only about 10-15 minutes. What I heard seemed pretty good but rather general for this audience.

This morning’s opening address by John Parascandola was excellelnt. He talked about Rapid Treatment Centers for women infected with VD during WWII. This is part of his forthcoming book on the history of syphilis that will be coming out in the summer. These centers were set up to protect American servicemen from women with “loose morals.” Women with VD were sent to these center for accelerated treatment with Salvarsan, based on the belief that they were unreliable patients who would not complete the full course of treatment to render them non-infectious. It was also interesting to learn that all women who traveled alone were considered suspect — for example, a married woman on her way home from work as a waitress (itself a suspect occupation) was stopped and tested for VD because she ate in a restaurant by herself. I’ll certainly be talking about this anti-VD campaign that targeted women as disease-carriers in my women’s history class next week.

I checked out the book exhibit briefly and once again Michigan has not sent my book for the display! On the other hand, I have a radio gig with an NPR station at the University of Illinois. It’s not syndicated, but you can listen on the web and get it at on a podcast.

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