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Vintage Posters Used Sultry Women And Cartoon Bunny Rabbits To Warn Of Sexually Transmitted Disease (PICTURES)

20/06/2013 17:28 BST | Updated 20/06/2013 17:36 BST

This collection of vintage medical campaign posters may come across as crude, sinister and sexist, but in an age without internet or TV, they were the first line of defence against diseases like tuberculosis and gonorrhoea.

Sultry women (and cartoon bunny rabbits!) were often used to flag the dangers of venereal disease and the Angel of Death symbolised life-threatening ailments – including polio.

The majority of the campaigns come from the early 1900s when infectious diseases like cholera, influenza and tuberculosis were the great scourges of society.

vintage health advertising

There were also two World Wars which caused massive upheaval and resulted in unsanitary conditions where disease flourished.

Soldiers on the frontline were often the focus of these campaigns.

One First World War poster depicts trench foot as being as much a danger as the enemy troops in the opposing trenches.

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Venereal disease was also a major concern and during the First World War and an estimated 18,000 US soldiers were treated for sexually transmitted diseases every day.

Only the great influenza pandemic of 1918-19 accounted for more soldiers taken out of the front line.

vintage health advertising

So in the early days of the Second World War, the US War Department embarked on a massive propaganda campaign aimed at preventing VD among its millions of male soldiers.

This resulted in a series of bizarre health posters often featuring sultry women in provocative poses accompanied by phrases such as 'She May Look Clean - But…'

However, this 'golden age' of medical posters soon came to an end with the development of antibiotics and vaccines which made infectious diseases more controllable.

Vintage Health Adverts