On 24 of May 1917, the Venereal Disease Act 1917 was enacted. This was ‘An Act to prevent the treatment of Venereal Disease otherwise than by duly qualified medical Practitioners, and to control the supply of Remedies therefor; and for other matters connected therewith.’
Essentially, it was to make sure that those suffering from venereal disease (VD) went to an actual doctor, and not so-called quacks – getting treatment which might actually be of medical value.
We hold a file which relates to the first case in the Metropolitan Police District under the Act, dating from February 1918 (MEPO 3/256). The statements within the file are fascinating, as they offer witness statements from the man suffering from VD, his wife, the inspector who deals with the case, and the qualified doctor who eventually helps the man in question.
The case of Mr Kontides
The story runs as follows: The aforementioned gentleman (Mr Kontides) complained to his wife (Mrs Kontides) that he was feeling unwell and that his penis was very sore, probably from having scratched himself. She suggested they go to the doctor, but he insisted that he knows a place where such an ailment could be cured. The most importance factor here is that he insisted they not go to the doctor, and instead visit a chemist’s shop. Continue reading »