The emergence of syphilis in 15th century Europe caused widespread panic and finger-pointing as to the cause and origin of this disease. Unfortunately, the treatment at the time was as dangerous as it was ineffectual.
Many historical figures have been associated with syphilis; some will have certainly had it but others will be to cast aspersions against one’s character. This is because it is a disease of rare distinction that sits at the historical nexus of a sex, disease, moral depravity, and mental illness.
It would take centuries before the cause of syphilis (Treponema pallidum) would be known. However, despite all of our knowledge and available treatment of syphilis, we see the prevalence of this on the rise.
This is the story of syphilis.