By Natisha Robb
In "When the Personal Really is Historical (and Scary!)," Jacqueline Antonovich, a gender and medicine historian, described her 21st-century experience with pertussis, a.k.a. whooping cough, an extremely contagious “good old-fashioned Oregon Trail disease” that recently reemerged since its near eradication in the 1970s. While Antonovich suggests a recent surge in the anti-vaccine movement, records unveil a history fraught with ongoing controversy. Before vaccinations became a childhood rite of passage, every family knew someone who lost a child to a now vaccine-preventable disease. Yet despite the magnitude of casualties from smallpox, measles, polio, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis in populations lacking herd immunity, vulnerable communities did not always welcome vaccination campaigns with open arms.
By Heather Munro Prescott
In an interview about his new film "Behind the Candelabra", actor Michael Douglas told the Guardian that his throat cancer was caused not by years of smoking but "by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus." Douglas said, "I did worry if the stress caused by my son's incarceration didn't help trigger it. But yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer." He shrugs. "And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it. . . It giveth and it taketh." When I first heard this story, I thought Douglas was compensating for playing a flamboyantly gay character by boasting of his heterosexual male prowess (and/or showing that despite his age and illness, he can still satisfy his much younger wife).
By Tina M. Kibbe
While doing research for a new project, I was doing some reading about sexually transmitted infections and came across a couple of interesting articles about the HPV vaccine and Planned Parenthood. The article on the HPV vaccine deals with the concern over the vaccination increasing the sexual activity of young women. And the article on Planned Parenthood surrounds the controversy over whether or not the organization would remain part of the state-run Women’s Health Program in Texas. My interest in these articles stems from my research in the gendered aspects of healthcare, particularly in relation to sexual transmitted infections. Also, I am originally from Texas and I think it is inane to restrict access to affordable healthcare resources.
By Jacqueline Antonovich
So, I have pertussis. You may know it better as whooping cough. Believe me, the irony of a gender and medicine historian catching a 19th century disease is not lost on me. It’s hard enough to be a graduate student, a GSI (Graduate Student Instructor), a wife, and a mother of two, but throw in a good old-fashioned Oregon Trail disease, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a semester.