US Airs Horrific Details of Guatemalan STD Studies

Researchers knew study was unethical
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2011 10:20 AM CDT
US Airs Horrific Details of Guatemalan STD Studies
The doctors who conducted STD experiments in Guatemala knew they were unethical, a new report finds.   (Shutterstock)

When US government researchers conducted STD studies on Indiana prisoners in 1943-1944, they asked for volunteers and told them they'd be infected. When they experimented on Guatemalans a few years later, they were not nearly so scrupulous, according to the Washington Post. Doctors brought infected prostitutes to unwitting inmates or, when they were feeling less dainty, opened wounds in their victims' penises, faces, and arms with needles, then poured bacteria inside, a US investigation reported yesterday.

That disparity proved that “these researchers knew these were unethical experiments, and they conducted them anyway,” one commission member said yesterday in a hearing on its findings. “That is what is reprehensible.” President Obama ordered the probe after news of the Guatemala experiments broke in October. The findings are grisly: in one case, researchers poured gonorrhea-infected pus into the eyes and other orifices of a woman already dying of syphilis, then injected her with yet more syphilis. She was one of 83 subjects to die. (Read more Guatemala stories.)

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