Georgian-era STI data shows rural-urban divide in Cheshire

From BBC - September 13, 2017

Chester's Georgian residents were eight times more likely to have syphilis than their rural neighbours, a study of sex and disease in the period has found.

About 8% of the city's under-35s were infected, compared to 1% in the countryside, according to the study's author Prof Simon Szreter.

It was no "hotbed of prostitution" though and equal numbers of men and women suffered from "the pox", he said.

However, he added that city dwellers did have more "non-marital sex".

'Sexual opportunity'

Prof Szreter, of St John's College, University of Cambridge, estimated the figures using Chester Infirmary's admissions register from 1773 to 1775 and a 1774 census by local physician John Haygarth - which pre-dates the national census that began in 1801.

He identified possible syphilitic cases based on the length of stay among 177 cases of "venereal distemper", and compared estimates concerning the urban population with those for rural residents living within a 10-mile radius.

He said the figures "suggest there's less opportunity for non-marital sex in the countryside, or more opportunity in the city, but it would be speculative to go further than that".

Syphilis in 18th Century

Source: Continuity and Change journal


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