Guatemala: US Infected Hundreds With Syphilis In The Late 40’s

Most of us remember the so called “medical” tests conducted by the Nazis “doctors” in the concentration camps. Needless to say, the experiments in question were the worst kind of torture imaginable, and treated human beings like lab rats. However, during the late 1940’s the self described “benevolent” super-power was conducting similar inhuman experiments than the Nazis by infecting hundreds of people in Guatemala with syphilis and gonorrhoea as part of a “medical study”.

At the time, the US government wanted to test vaccines against venereal diseases. Most of the 700 people deliberately infected were mentally ill patients and prisoners who did not give their consent, and most of the people infected were not given proper treatments.Evidence of the program was revealed by Susan Reverby, a professor at Wellesley College.

“In 1946-48, Dr John C. Cutler, a PHS physician was running a syphilis inoculation project in Guatemala co-sponsored by the PHS, the National Institute of Health, the Pan American Health Sanitary Bureau, and the Guatemalan government,” wrote Reverby.

Further in her extensive study, Reverby explains the “methodology” of the disturbing experiment.

“Cutler and the other physicians chose men in the Guatemala National Penitentiary and men and women in the National Mental Health Hospital for a total of 696 subjects. Permissions were gained from the authorities but not from the individuals. The doctors used prostitutes with the disease to pass it to the prisoners (since sexual visits were allowed by law in Guatemalan prisons) and then did direct inoculations made from syphilis bacteria poured onto the men’s penises or on forearms and faces that were slightly abraded when the “normal exposure” produced little disease, or in a few cases through spinal punctures,” wrote Reverby.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the research as “unethical and reprehensible”. No offer of compensation has been made yet, but the State Department  said that “an investigation will be launched into the study” which took place in the late 40’s.

“The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946 to 1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical. Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices,” said Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Health Sibelius in a joint statement today.

To read the complete report from Susan Reverby click here.

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2 Responses to Guatemala: US Infected Hundreds With Syphilis In The Late 40’s

  1. Ole Ole Olson October 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    How can it take 60 years for information like this to come out? Was this somehow protected under the guise of ‘national security’, and if so, what does that mean about what they are hiding today?

  2. Bilgeman October 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    “No offer of compensation has been made yet, but the State Department said that “an investigation will be launched into the study” which took place in the late 40?s.”

    Y’know, you had a good story here until that sentence above. With that mention of “compensation”, you threw it right into the toilet.

    All it is now is (yet another):

    “Give Me Money”

    Guilt trip.

    (BTW, you should translate this article into the Spanish, since I’m certain that you are also agitating for the Guatemalan government to cough up some compensation for it’s named part in this…right?

    BTW…the late 1940’s, you said.

    Hmmm, wasn’t the Ku Klux Klansman Democrat Harry S Truman the president then?

    Why…I DO believe that he was!
    And he had a Democratic Congress from ’45 to ’47, and then again from ’49-’51.

    How ’bout that! Paleo-ObamaCare!

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