Public health poster for venereal disease.

When Sex Was Scary...And Signs Were Scarier

There was much to be frightened of in WWII. Nazis, Kamikaze raids, and ... venereal disease. The posters tell the story.

During World War II, while Rosie the Riveter was galvanizing the workforce and Uncle Sam was beckoning recruits, the U.S. government was fighting a poster war on a third front ― against venereal disease. Originally concerned that syphilis and gonorrhea could keep men from the battlefield and, later, that "our boys" might bring something memorable home to wives and sweethearts aside from souvenirs, the government enlisted artists to warn of the dangers of VD. Here, to mark STD Awareness Month, some of the more provocative posters....

VD: Career-Ender David Pollack/Corbis via Getty Images VD: Career-Ender "Bag of Trouble" Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images "Bag of Trouble" Death Wears a Pink Hat Science Museum/SSPL via Getty Images Death Wears a Pink Hat "No is the Best Tactic; the Next, Prophylactic!" David Pollack/Corbis via Getty Images "No is the Best Tactic; the Next, Prophylactic!" "Venereal Disease Covers the Earth" Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images "Venereal Disease Covers the Earth" "A Sailor Doesn't Have to Prove He's a Man!" Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images "A Sailor Doesn't Have to Prove He's a Man!" It Will Take You by Storm David Pollack/Corbis via Getty Images It Will Take You by Storm "Juke Joint Sniper" David Pollack/Corbis via Getty Images "Juke Joint Sniper" How Good Times End David Pollack/Corbis via Getty Images How Good Times End "Two Girls I Know Want to Meet You in the Worst Way" Historical/Corbis via Getty Images "Two Girls I Know Want to Meet You in the Worst Way" "A Million New Victims Each Year" Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images "A Million New Victims Each Year" Beware the See-Through Hand David Pollack/Corbis via Getty Images Beware the See-Through Hand "Easy to Get..." Hulton Archive/Getty Images "Easy to Get..." A Sailor and His ... Baggage Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images A Sailor and His ... Baggage "Avoid Pickups and Prostitutes" Hulton Archive/Getty Images "Avoid Pickups and Prostitutes" "Know For Sure" Hulton Archive/Getty Images "Know For Sure" A Tale of Two Infections Hulton Archive/Getty Images A Tale of Two Infections