U.S. to apologize for STD experiments in Guatemala
Government researchers infected patients with syphilis, gonorrhea without their consent in the 1940s
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U.S. to apologize for medical experiments
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 are expected to offer extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service.
The apology will be to Guatemala and Hispanic residents of the United States, according to officials.
The first public discussion will be a telebriefing with Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Affairs around 11 a.m. ET.
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.
They were discovered by Susan Reverby, a professor of women’s studies at Wellesley College, and was posted Friday 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 researchers were trying to determine whether the antibiotic penicillin could prevent early syphilis infection, not just cure it, Reverby writes.
The Guatemalan experiments involved 696 subjects – male prisoners and female patients in the National Mental Health Hospital.
Reverby, who has written extensively about the Tuskegee experiments, found the evidence while conducting further research on Tuskegee.
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