Prostitution and wars have always been linked. For instance, although prostitution networks have existed for centuries in Asia, the Vietnam War made them flourish * in the 1960s and 70s, largely developing them in Vietnam as well as in Thailand, where American servicemen travelled for ‘rest and recreation trips’.
Since the hygiene conditions were generally very bad during periods of conflict, diseases are also commonly associated with prostitution.
When British soldiers set off * for the war that raged in Europe in 1914, Lord Kitchener, British Secretary of State for War gave them a short message: ‘In this new experience, you may find temptations both in wine and women. You must entirely resist both’.
Very few men resisted the second temptation. Long queues * of soldiers waiting their turn could often be seen in front of brothels *; some couldn’t resist their sexual urges *, others didn’t want to die virgins, while many had another reason: they considered brothels, and especially the venereal * diseases (VD) they could contract * there, as a way to avoid (or postpone) death in the trenches.
For this reason, it was more expensive to have sex with an STD-carrying * prostitute than with a healthy one because the demand was higher.
About 400,000 soldiers were treated for venereal disease during World War I.
During World War II and also during the Spanish Civil War, anti-STD propaganda posters were designed to discourage military members from having sex with prostitutes.