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article imageReport: 2,500 Guatemalans infected with STDS from American tests

By KJ Mullins     Sep 1, 2011 in World
A report released this week details a medical experiment held by the United States in the 1940s that infected Guatemalan people with sexually transmitted diseases.
As many as 2,500 people were infected in Guatemala from 1946 until 1948 by a U.S. medical research team. There are 83 confirmed deaths of Guatemalans, researchers found.
Hundreds of soldiers, prisoners, prostitutes and mental patients were infected with syphilis, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases without their knowledge, the report says. Scientists wanted to see if penicillin could be used to prevent infections.
No useful information was achieved by the experiments paid for by American tax dollars. What's more, only 700 of those infected with STDs were given any treatment.
Tests were also conducted on inmates in Terre Haute, Indiana. The difference was those subjects consented to the tests.
Some 5,000 people were also part of experiments in the Latin American country according to the report released by the U.S. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.
Researchers were studying the effects of penicillin in order to know how to apply their use with United States military stationed worldwide.
Today the effects of the program are still being felt in Guatemala with the children of those infected having active disease without symptoms, according to Medical Association of Guatemala president Carlos Mejía.
"It took place in the context in which they [the United States] were judging the German doctors who had been experimenting with typhus and malaria on prisoners of war. The Nazis used Poles, Russians and Jews, while the Americans made almost the same use of Guatemalans," Mejia told the BBC.
There is an investigation ongoing in Guatemala that is expected to be completed in October concerning the experiments.
The new report came after historian Susan M. Reverby of Wellesley College discovered the program lead by John Cutler, MD. Cutler was also involved in the Tuskegee syphilis experiments on African-American men that ran from 1932 to 1972.
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