U.S to Guatamala: Sorry We Intentionally Infected Your Citizens With Syphilis

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Conspiracy theorists, fire up your mimeograph machines!

Susan Reverby, a women's studies professor at Wellesley College, published a paper detailing the joint research program between the U.S. and Guatemalan governments. From 1946-1948, doctors enabled men in prison to be infected with syphilis by allowing prostitutes carrying the disease to visit them. From there, they studied inoculation techniques. The tests, which also involved mental hospital patients, involved nearly 700 subjects, according to the study. 

Without detailing the nature of the research, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a joint statement apologizing for the program. They said they would launch an investigation into the "specifics" of the study. 

"The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical," they said. "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.

More here.

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  1. Jesus Chreist this happened 62 years ago. Who really gives a shit beyond some women’s studies bitch at Wellesley?

    1. Probably some 80 year old Guatamalan

      1. In other words it didn’t kill him.

        1. Right; just like if we amputated your hands and feet, it probably wouldn’t kill you and you could still have just a great life well into your 80s.

    2. See my (barely too late) post below at 11:12PM.

    3. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. In a play where all the women are played by men so they have to kiss each other.

      1. “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

        Learning from history and groveling aren’t exactly the same thing.

    4. Jesus Chreist this happened 62 years ago.

      And why are people still complaining about Stalin? He died in 1953, ferchrissakes! Liberal crybabies.

      1. I’m no fucking Liberal, jack. Curb your tongue.

        1. Reading comprehension for the win. But good comeback, though.

    5. Barabas: …but that was in another country; And besides, the wench is dead.– Marlowe, The Jew of Malta

      It was evil, it should be acknowleged and renounced. Who lost family because of this? There are children and the children of children who have the right to know and to an apology.

    6. If the evil was this advanced 62 years ago, how far along might it be NOW?

      1. Of course, I should add that this is only a variation on the old, “supply ’em with infected blankets and see what happens” routine. So perhaps the evil has been steady-state for a while.

  2. Excuse me for my lack of give a shit over a long dead, immoral, by probably scientifically justifiable experiment on unknowing subjects.

    1. That’s the spirit!

  3. So this happened under a Democratic administration, eh?

    1. I’m sure that fact will be conveniently left out of the media’s reporting on this story. Hell, it wasn’t even mentioned in the evil, right-wing FoxNews story.

    2. Please. It was Bush’s fault.

      1. Hey Rove, quit trying to deflect the blame.

  4. You fail to see the significance?

    I can tell my wife that I got STD’s from a US government medical experiment, and not from romanian girl who works second shit at the massge parlor.

    1. Two servings of caviar!

    2. So you’re into coprophagia?

      1. No, I just left my “f” in her!

        Zing!

    3. She’ll never work her way up to first shit if she has syphilis. Poor girl.

    4. Reminds me of the joke about the pickle slicer.

  5. From 1946-1948, doctors enabled men in prison to be infected with syphilis by allowing prostitutes carrying the disease to visit them.

    Wow, simply being visited by a person with syphilis is enough to contract the disease? I think they might be leaving something out of this narrative. Something that might contradict the theme of the big bad US “infecting” poor innocent Guatemalans.

    1. The point is that the government knew these prostitutes were infected, and didn’t tell the men.

      That being said, WTF is the furor about so long after the fact?

      1. Now, if they had told the men that the prostitutes were infected, I bet many if not most of the inmates would have fucked the women anyway, thus doing away with the immoral lack of disclosure and consent.

      2. That’s pretty weak.

        If I bring a girl to my friend’s house for a party, and fail to tell him she has some STD, does that make me guilty of fraud?

        1. If you she is a prostitute and you bring her to the party so that they can have sex with her, that’s a different issue.

          Add to that the fact that these guys were wards of the state at the time.

          1. There’s more red herrings in that post than in the Shedd Aquarium.

            Was someone holding a gun to these guys heads forcing them to copulate?

            1. Gimme a fucking break, ya dope.

              The guys were in prison. The officials brought in some prostitutes and told the guys, “here ya go; have some fun” – knowing that the girls were infected with syphilis, with the intent that they infect these guys.

              So your answer is “they were asking for it”?

              So if I put strychnine in your hamburger and put the burger on your plate, and you eat it, I guess I’m not guilty of murder, because nobody put a gun to your head and told you to eat it?

              1. I don’t consider prostitutes to be the equivalent of hamburgers. They’re human beings.

        2. That’s pretty disingenuous.

          These were men locked in a prison for years, probably not even seeing a woman, much less interacting with one. The people involved knew exactly what would happen if they introduced a free prostitute.

          Then they hand-picked infected prostitutes with the specific intent to infect the inmates.

          You can’t claim “but we didn’t do it, they did.” That’s absurd. They had intent. They accomplished their goal.

          If you put poison in a heroin addicts needle and offer it to him, you’re still guilty of murder even if he is the one who shoots it in his arm.

      3. No, it means the companions were unethical in not informing the men that there may be a chance they could become infected if proper precautions were not taken.

  6. It’s Guat-FUCKING-emalan, not Guatamalan.

    Idiots.

    1. You seem awfully defensive. I thought Guatemalans were Mexico’s Mexicans.

      1. I am the defender of the language.

  7. yet another free market failure.

  8. The nice thing about being part of a lunatic fringe utopian political movement is that you never have to apologize for shit.

    1. Max, it was your fellow daddy-knows-best travelers that were guilty of this big-government program. You are defending the indefensible. Don’t bother with YOUR apologies.

    2. The nice thing about being a statist is that when your BigGov deliberately infects people with a serious disease without their consent, you feel no remorse. Eggs and omelettes, right?

    3. The nice thing about fucking your mother’s corpse, Edward, is that you don’t have to apologize for not pulling out.

    4. ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF!!!!!!!!!!

    5. Sorry we infected your dad with Chlamydia.

      Happy now?

    6. Max, go fuck yourself. It’s shit like this why so many of us oppose the state.

    7. Re: Max,

      The nice thing about being part of a lunatic fringe utopian political movement is that you never have to apologize for shit.

      That was incredibly stupid from your part, Max. It was the Big Daddy State that did that.

  9. Using human beings as guinea pigs for syphilis research? U.S. scientists would never stoop to such a — oh, Tuskegee experiments, right.

  10. So, this was done by bad corporations, right? Not by the noble and wonderful government?

    1. But only because we foolish Americans had yet to adopt Obamacare, we were forced to resort to such crude research measures…..

  11. Some context here would be nice. Were the men serving life sentences? Were there Guatemalans in on the experiments?

    Then, in typical Obama admin fashion, the SecState and SecHHS apologize for our governments actions and vow to find out what those actions were. For all we know, we just helped out since it was a joint US-Guatemalan project.

    I’m starting to miss my Friday Balko nut-punch. It’s been somewhat lacking the past couple of weeks.

    Knee-jerk reactionism at it’s finest.

    1. Regardless of the answers to those questions, infecting people with a potentially crippling/fatal disease without their consent is pretty fucking evil. We’re talking Joseph Mengele territory here.

      1. That’s why I want to see the whole story, and I would want to see an investigation done before the apology is issued. Who’s to say this womyn didn’t have an agenda and fabricated/embellished some of the narrative?
        There has been no mention of this for 62 years. That’s a long time for this to go without someone blowing the whistle or clearing their conscience. There may be more than meets the eye and I don’t think for a second we should just take some chick from Wellesley’s word for it. We should see her study, methodology and some corroboration before we condemn what is still essentially an unknown.

        1. Read her bio at Wellesley. She’s a typical leftist statist, based on it. Community Organizer, consumer advocate, labor relations, etc, etc, etc. All the buzzwords.

          http://www.wellesley.edu/WomenSt/fac_reverby.html

          Again, I’m just saying we should get some facts first, and we have none at the moment.

        2. There has been no mention of this for 62 years. That’s a long time for this to go without someone blowing the whistle or clearing their conscience.

          This may be totally unrelated, but the sci-fi author Thomas Disch treated this theme in his novel Camp Concentration (an excellent book, by the way), written in 1968.

      2. Yes, it is evil and if the U.S. government participated it should be held accountable.

  12. Here’s her story. Her footnotes list no factual support of her assertions. They are talking about Tuskegee and Terre Haute. The one footnote in the sloppy 4-page opinion piece passed off as an investigation is about a quote allegedly attributed to the then-Surgeon General.

    I ask again, where’s the supporting evidence?

    http://www.wellesley.edu/WomenSt/Synopsis Reverby ‘Normal Exposure’.pdf

  13. Thank you sloopyinca.

    I don’t doubt for a minute that something like this could very well have been done.

    I find it interesting that nobody seems to mention or care about the Guatemalan government’s role in whatever happened. It couldn’t have happened without them.

    But these, really, is the takeaway so far:

    I don’t think for a second we should just take some chick from Wellesley’s word for it.

    If this happened, there are boxed full of corroborating evidence. It was supposed to be a clinical study, after all. Its whole purpose was to develop an airtight record of what happened.

    1. If only we had machines that takes paper and shreds it in zillions of little pieces, or some form of combustion that makes paper go up in smoke and ash…

  14. What level was our involvement in this?

    Any involvement at all is reprehensible of course (as would be knowledge without blowing the whistle), but it’s worth knowing what the Guatemalan gov’t did and what we did. There’s a difference between Buck Weaver and Chick Gandil. Which was our government?

  15. An important distinction needs to be made here. Did they select prostitutes with syphilis or assume some would have it where there would need to be treatment for at least some cases after visitations. If the later, she doesn’t have squat.

  16. From 1946-1948, doctors enabled men in prison to be infected with syphilis by allowing prostitutes carrying the disease to visit them.

    Harry Truman April 12 1945 to Jan 20 1953.

    Can we add this to the Progressive Democrats committing atrocities list?

  17. As Ron Bailey might put it:

    It’s time for the defenders of syphilis research on unconsenting subjects to acknowledge that more ethical research methods have produced promising results. It’s also time for opponents of involuntary syphilis infections to acknowledge that this experimental procedure *might* have produced useful results.

    1. And there is reasonable room to debate whether Guatemalan convicts are fully “persons” in the constitutional sense.

      1. I mean, if you could cure your grandma’s syphilis at the expense of some convicted robber or rapist whose name you can’t even pronounce, wouldn’t it be worth it?

        1. I suppose I better add a sarcasm tag for the benefit of literal-minded readers: ?

          There you go!

  18. Dudes didn’t have to fuck the prostitutes. They could have sucked each other off, like they were in the mens’ room at a Reason/Freedom Works Tea Dance.

  19. So apparently taxes not only pay for civilization, but also for deliberately infecting prisoners (and also mental patients) with syphilis.

    Most of the subjects who contracted an STD were treated, researchers said. But some who were infected with syphilis were given only partial treatment or not treated at all.

    At least one patient died during the experiments, although it is not clear whether the death was from the experiments or from an underlying medical problem,” HHS said, adding that it is not clear from the records whether the prostitutes were treated.

    In case any one wondered, the symptoms for untreated syphilis are not exactly pleasant.

  20. “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.”

    Outraged, but not surprised?

  21. Never trust the gov. they want to bleed everybody of all they have and this just shows you how much they want to control everybody and they don,t care how much evil they do to further along there evil deeds. Just like the gov,s of other countries screw over those who live there, it is the same here.

  22. I remember being told in Reason by Bailey that appeals to ethics and morality should never be a restraint on scientific research. Anyone who believes they should are anti-science Luddites living in a superstitious past.

    What gives?

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