From The Star Phoenix:
The Virgin Cure is set in Manhattan in 1871, when 30,000 children lived in the streets of the city. It is the story of 12-year-old Moth, a poor girl but a survivor if there ever was one. Moth's mother sells her to a wealthy woman who abuses her, so Moth escapes to the Bowery, a place of beggars, thieves, prostitutes and freakshows. There, she is taken in by brothel-owner Miss Everett, who sells girls' virginity to the highest bidder. It's there that Moth befriends a woman doctor, Dr. Sadie, and learns about the virgin cure - the belief that having sex with a virgin girl will cure a man's syphilis.