Discussion » Nonsense » US apologizes for Guatemala STD experiments

  • Vincent AKA 文森特
  • Erik Aleksander Aas

    U.S. apologizes for Guatemala STD experiments

    Government researchers infected patients with syphilis, gonorrhea without their consent in the 1940s

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    By Robert BazellChief science and health correspondent
    NBC News
    updated 10/1/2010 7:19:05 PM ET

    U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago.

    Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.

    About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

    On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service.

    "The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical," according to the joint statement from Clinton and Sebelius. "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."

  • Erik Aleksander Aas

    Secretary Clinton called Guatemalan president Alvara Cabellaros Thursday night to reaffirm the importance of the U.S. relationship with the Latin American country.President Barack Obama called Cabellaros Friday afternoon, according to a statement from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

    "The people of Guatemala are our close friends and neighbors in the Americas," the government statement says. "As we move forward to better understand this appalling event, we reaffirm the importance of our relationship with Guatemala, and our respect for the Guatemalan people, as well as our commitment to the highest standards of ethics in medical research."

  • Erik Aleksander Aas

    During a conference call Friday with National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela, officials noted that there were no formalized regulations regarding protection of human studies during the 1940s.

    Story: Horrific medical tests of past raise concerns for today

    In addition to the apology, the U.S. is setting up commissions to ensure that human medical research conducted around the globe meets "rigorous ethical standards." U.S. officials are also launching investigations to uncover exactly what happened during the experiments.

  • Erik Aleksander Aas

    The episode raises inevitable comparisons to the infamous Tuskegee experiment, the Alabama study where hundreds of African-American men were told they were being treated for syphilis, but in fact were denied treatment. That U.S. government study lasted from 1932 until press reports revealed it in 1972.

    The Guatemala experiments, which were conducted between 1946 and 1948, never provided any useful information and the records were hidden.

    Image: Susan Reverby
    Wellesley College
    Susan Reverby, a professor of women's studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, discovered records documenting U.S. experiments that infected Guatemalans with gonorrhea and syphilis.

    They were discovered by Susan Reverby, a professor of women's studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and were posted on her website.

    According to Reverby’s report, the Guatemalan project was co-sponsored by the U.S. Public Health Service, the NIH, the Pan-American Health Sanitary Bureau (now the Pan American Health Organization) and the Guatemalan government. The experiments involved 696 subjects — male prisoners and female patients in the National Mental Health Hospital.

     Video: Prof. discovers U.S. role in health experiments (on this page)

    The researchers were trying to determine whether the antibiotic penicillin could prevent syphilis infection, not just cure it, Reverby writes. After the subjects were infected with the syphilis bacteria — through visits with prostitutes who had the disease and direct inoculations — it is unclear whether they were later cured or given proper medical care, Reverby notes. While most of the patients got treatment, experts estimate as many as a one-third, did not.

    Secret testing of Guatemalans may renew minorities mistrust

    The STD experiments were conducted with the cooperation of the Guatemalan government. During that time, the U.S. -- which had a long association with the Guatemalan military -- exerted a powerful influence in the Latin American country, largely in order to protect the interests of the American-based United Fruit Company. In 1954 the U.S. CIA helped overthrow Guatemala’s democratically elected president because of land reforms that opposed the multinational corporation.

  • Lanyan
    Lanyan wrote:

    Everything is in the name of the benifit of the country

  • Minger
    Minger wrote:

    Thanks Vincent, good post.

    What in Jesus' name is wrong with people? I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by this, and yet I was...

  • Kristian Svoren

    what a hell.....

  • Jacopo DR
    Jacopo DR wrote:

    getting an STD without even having sex.

    that seriously sucks

  • Albulena Imeri

    I saw a report that similiar experiments are still being carried out by pharm cos in developping countries like in Africa and Asia. And this sucks balls.

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)


    Hahahaha ... and I have to wonder, which of the Americans in China now might be on a related secret mission?

  • Albulena Imeri

    Totally, I am here to build bridges. And word.

  • Da Fan
    Da Fan wrote:


  • Lanyan
    Lanyan wrote:

    Da fan

    which are you referring to?

  • Da Fan
    Da Fan wrote:
  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:

    Not to make light of this, but even US citizens were victims of these experiments. Almost 400 African Americans in Tuskegee, Alabama were used as human guinea pigs from 1932 to 1972, to see the effects of late stage syphillis on human beings. This was during a time when the disease was easily curable with inexpensive and widely-available penicillin.

    My middle school history classes were more about American military history and propaganda than anything real. That is, we covered the few wars where we were both victorious and morally defensible (that is, we skipped the War of 1812, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and spent very little time reading about the wars with Spain and Mexico). We spent almost a whole semester on the two World Wars because thats when our heroic Greatest Generation saved the world from the evil Nazis. And what they taught us was the Nazis performed all sorts of cruel experiments on the Jews, yet when we liberated the concentration camps, the soldiers were instructed to destroy the results of the research.

    Now, giving someone the clap and watching their genitals rot off will probably never produce results that will benefit humanity. But let's imagine they did. Let's imagine they found a cure for AIDS. Would you burn the results of the research? Or since the damage had already been done, would you think that using the results to benefit humanity would do justice for the victims?

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