Strange Bedfellows: Adventures in the Science, History, and Surprising Secrets of STDs

Flatiron. Feb. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781250206626. $27.99. HEALTH
MD Park creates an engrossing, fun, and frank discussion of the science and history behind sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and calls for us to have sex safely. Through Park’s engaging writing, readers are brought into a scientific arena filled with safe-sex proponents, women’s reproductive rights advocates, and LBGTQ+ and anti-racist allies, all seeking to overturn centuries of systemic discrimination inherent in sexual and reproductive health sciences. The strength of this book lies in Park’s presentation of personal stories and the removal of the morality often tied to the topic of STDs, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as they are sometimes known. She shares insight from her years of working at an STI clinic, and how the stigma of sex and disease impacts people of differing races, ages, and backgrounds. With sensitivity, she also addresses the history of diseases among people who are currently in jail or prison. Park further offers details on the history of the condom and the current research being done on vaccines for STDs.
VERDICT A thoughtful, informative account for readers interested in public health and sexual health as well as those with an interest in the history of medicine. Park brings the right amount of care to an often-stigmatized subject.

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