U.S. Apologizes for Intentionally Infecting Guatamalan Prisoners With STD

Reprehensible news article of the day:

From 1946 to 1948, American public health doctors deliberately infected nearly 700 Guatemalans — prison inmates, mental patients and soldiers — with venereal diseases in what was meant as an effort to test the effectiveness of penicillin.

American tax dollars, through the National Institutes of Health, even paid for syphilis-infected prostitutes to sleep with prisoners, since Guatemalan prisons allowed such visits. When the prostitutes did not succeed in infecting the men, some prisoners had the bacteria poured onto scrapes made on their penises, faces or arms, and in some cases it was injected by spinal puncture.

If the victims came down with the disease, they were treated with antibiotics.

The U.S. officially apologized today. The President of Guatamala appropriately expressed his outrage, calling the tests "crimes against humanity."

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  • Display: Sort:
    share the blame (3.00 / 1) (#6)
    by diogenes on Sat Oct 02, 2010 at 10:49:01 AM EST
    The US should not have done this experiment, but surely people in the government of Guatamala were complicit as well because they allowed their prison inmates to be the subject of such a medical experiment. Why isn't rage directed at them?

    Ugh. (none / 0) (#9)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 01:23:28 PM EST
    The Guatemalan government backed the trials, asking Cutler to "test and treat" men in army barracks and supply penicillin "as part of the price for cooperation," Reverby wrote in an article on the experiments scheduled to be published in January in the Journal of Policy History.

    Feigned outrage by Obama (1.50 / 2) (#2)
    by Andreas on Fri Oct 01, 2010 at 11:54:24 PM EST
    Barak Obama is currently actively supporting torturers and war criminals such as George Walker Bush, Richard Cheney, John Yoo and others. And Barak Obama actively promotes state terrorism (including murder).

    Not surprisingly the crimes in Guatemala were committed while a Democrat was in the White House.

    Heinous and despicable. (none / 0) (#1)
    by desertswine on Fri Oct 01, 2010 at 10:15:08 PM EST

    According to the woman who discovered (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Sat Oct 02, 2010 at 12:18:04 AM EST
    the documents, the M.D. who designed the study chose Guatamala because prostitution legal and also permitted for prostitutes to have sex in prison with the inmates.  But the STD carrying prostitutes did not spread disease in enough nos. to the inmates so the team, including Guatamalans, tried to topically induce STDs in the inmates.  Same M.D. worked at Tuskegee later.  

    For anyone not familiar with "Tuskegee" (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by Peter G on Sat Oct 02, 2010 at 09:37:04 AM EST
    when used as a reference in this context, you can study up briefly here.  Between 1932 and 1972, in rural Alabama, US public health researchers identified hundreds of impoverished African-American men who had syphilis in an early stage and studied "the natural progression of the disease" without telling them they were infected, what they were being studied for, or that treatment was readily available.  Unlike in Guatemala, the doctors did not inflict the infection on the subjects.  Nevertheless, the Tuskegee Experiment was the greatest U.S. medical ethics scandal of its time, and led to the creation of the modern standards of bioethics and research protocols.  The resulting mix of rumor and fact that spread like wildfire through African-Americans continues to poison that community's attitudes today toward institutional health care and research.

    Have you read this book? (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 12:54:00 AM EST
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.  

    Non-fiction by a biologist who tracks down the relatives, physicians, medical records, and post-mortem cell lines of a black woman who was treated at Johns Hopkins in the early 1950s.  Her cell line may still exist.  No informed consent and little medical ethics protocaol.  Very interesting book.


    NPR, All Things Considered: (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Sat Oct 02, 2010 at 12:45:19 AM EST
    Like This is New and News (none / 0) (#8)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 10:17:07 AM EST
    I don't believe for a second the CIA isn't testing far worse chemicals on ghost prisoners as I type.

    Experiments on humans are happening everyday with their 'consent'.  Without it, Big Pharma would be just plain old Pharma.

    I do love how outraged the President of Guatemala is.  What did they think Americans were pouring into the "scrapes made on their penises", Extends, Viagra ??