history of STDs

San Francisco Is Basically Wearing a 100-Year-Old Condom

The city of San Francisco has been practicing safer sex for 100 years, and boy are its thighs tired.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Municipal Clinic, a groundbreaking institution and one of the first clinics in the nation to address the spread of STDs with low-cost, compassionate, expert services. That practice continues to this day with the Department of Public Health’s City Clinic.

And if you ever wanted an example of what makes San Francisco such a great place to live: last week the city agency in charge of promoting healthy intercourse threw a “100 Years of Sex Party”-themed party at the local Cartoon Art Museum. There is not one thing about that sentence that is not awesome.

Of course, safe sex has always been hot, but the philosophy of healthy crotches has changed somewhat over the years. For example, back in 1911, they used shaming terms like “social maladies,” which sounds like a great name for a drag punk band.

These days, they’re even less subtle, with their “healthy penis” campaign. And then there’s their STD411 app, which is well-intentioned but good luck figuring out how to actually use it.

The DPH has posted a fabulous archive of public education posters over the years, and it’s a great way to see the evolution of sexual health through advertising. Cruise on over to 100YearsOfSex.org to check ’em out: we like the one showing three army dudes saluting some women, with the caption declaring, “For Home and Country. Avoid Venereal Disease.” Other catchy slogans include, “Syphilis/Menace to Industry,” “Fool the Axis — Use Prophylaxis” and “Syphilis could have ruined my home.”

Which is your favorite?