U.S. apologizes for Guatemala STD experiments

Charlie - posted on 10/02/2010 ( 15 moms have responded )

11,203

111

409

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."

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."


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.

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.

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.

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.

...........................................................................................................................................................

Have they done enough for such a heinous crime on humanity ?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Charlie - posted on 10/03/2010

11,203

111

409

Someone mentioned in the other thread that unless someone was still testing positive then they should get help .

These are sexually transmitted diseases , they don't just affect those who were tested but those you they were passed on to , i have no doubt these diseases are still rampant because of these experiments , i think at the very least they owe the people of Guatamala some kind of free health program and sex education .What they have done has long lasting devastating effects on peoples lives for both the infected and those they passed it on to .

Heather - posted on 10/03/2010

389

17

18

http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Ameri...

This link talks about the healthcare system in Guatemala. Even if we payed for the whole population to receive free health care it wouldn't make much of a difference when there aren't any doctors and most people live so far from medical facilities that even if their healthcare was free they wouldn't be able to get there in time...assuming they chose to get help at all.

Sharon - posted on 10/03/2010

11,585

12

1315

I agree. They are most likely dead but they did heinous things and went on to live their lives. At the very least they deserve to be condemned as the subhuman scum that they were, by name & publicly. If for no other reason than to give a face to the evil that perpetrated this crime. And it was a crime. People are arrested & charged today for willfully infecting their partners with stds.

Dana - posted on 10/03/2010

11,264

35

495

Well, Roosevelt and Truman are dead so...as I would imagine everyone else to be. I mean we are talking about 64 yrs ago.

This conversation has been closed to further comments

15 Comments

View replies by

Jodi - posted on 10/03/2010

3,562

36

3907

No-one said that it wasn't going to be addressed. Well, I didn't anyway, I just believe that it should be, that an apology isn't enough. I am pretty sure there is more to come on this issue, and now having issued an apology, Obama doesn't plan on wiping his hands of it altogether.

Dana - posted on 10/03/2010

11,264

35

495

Who's to say it's not though. Just because they issued an apology doesn't mean we've wiped our hands of it.

Jodi - posted on 10/03/2010

3,562

36

3907

The "no doctors" is an excuse. The US, I am sure, could provide trained doctors and medical staff if it so desired.

I actually totally agree with Loureen in that there would be an ongoing impact with respect to this, and that it needs to be addressed accordingly.

Charlie - posted on 10/03/2010

11,203

111

409

So its too hard so why bother ?

Sorry but thats a poor excuse , if your dog does a shit you clean it up you dont leave it because its too far away or you might get dirty unfourtunatly with that analogy dog shit eventually degrades and disapears STD's do not without help.

Of course its their choice to get treatment BUT they should at least have the opportunity to make that choice .

Dana - posted on 10/03/2010

11,264

35

495

Well I'm sure anyone can investigate who was in charge of the Public Health Service at the time and those in government. I'm also sure that more will come out in time.

C. - posted on 10/03/2010

4,125

35

242

I agree with Dana S (*GASP* lol). The people that were responsible for this heinous act are long gone by now. Therefore nobody can really be held accountable for it. After all, we can't hold their children accountable.. They had nothing to do with it and it would be just as unethical to force someone with no involvement into paying the price.

I honestly think that apologizing was the most they could do at this point. If this was outed to the world many, many years ago, then appropriate action would have definitely been a must.

Charlie - posted on 10/03/2010

11,203

111

409

I would like to know who was in charge too Sharon , i really feel someone should be held accountable for this .

C. - posted on 10/03/2010

4,125

35

242

Have they done enough? What exactly would they have been able to do EXCEPT apologize for something that happened that long ago? It's not like the people that died from it could be dug up from their graves to be given an antidote for it.



I believe what they did was wrong. If they wanted to do an experiment, it should have been done on patients that already had been infected with an STD by someone they had sex with, and the experiment should have been done WITH their consent. But at the same time, we cannot turn the clock back and right our wrongs. The most we can do right now is apologize since it's likely those people are not alive anymore after not receiving proper care.

Janessa - posted on 10/02/2010

444

38

28

wow i am not shocked at all. Governments around the world have been giving people dieases world wide for some time now. I have read books about the history of HIV the government around the world infect people with it using the vaccines for polio and scientist came forward because they are dying and want the truth out. I am not surprise at all hearing what the government around the world have down to people and majority of the time it is to minorties.

Sharon - posted on 10/02/2010

11,585

12

1315

We can't get medical treatment for continental america. We're supposed to find the funds for guatemala?

They owe them free treatment for life for those diseases, imo though.

I wonder what the guatemalans would/will ask for too.

There is also finding out who was in charge of the experiments. Who authorized it. Who implemented it.

They had to know it was unethical.

The USA also gave black men syphilis if I remember right.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms