U.S. apologizes to Guatemalans for secret STD experimentsBy Brett Michael Dykes Fri Oct 1, 1:04 pm ET
U.S. scientific researchers infected hundreds of Guatemalan mental patients with sexually transmitted diseases from 1946 to 1948 -- a practice that only came recently to light thanks to the work of an academic researcher. On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a formal apology to the Central American nation, and to Guatemalan residents of the United States.
"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," said Clinton and Sebelius in a joint statement. "We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."
The discovery of the long-ago experiments stems from another, far better known episode of federal tampering with test subjects to study sexually transmitted diseases: the long-running "Tuskegee experiment," studying 399 poor black men from Macon County, Ala., who had been diagnosed with syphilis but never informed of their condition. Federal scientists simply told the men they had "bad blood" and researchers compiled a four-decades-long study monitoring "untreated syphilis in the male Negro." Researchers never treated the illness over its usually fatal course, even after the simple remedy of penicillin was shown to be an effective syphilis treatment; participants received only free meals and medical exams, together with federal funding of their funeral expenses after they died. The study began in 1932, continuing right through to 1972, when it was exposed in media reports.
One of the better-known experts on the Tuskegee scandal is Susan Reverby, a professor of women's and gender studies at Wellesley College who has published two books on the subject. As she was researching her most recent book, Reverby learned of the Guatemalan project, in which researchers from the U.S. Public Health Service conducted experiments on 696 male and female patients housed at Guatemala's National Mental Health Hospital. The scientists injected the patients with gonorrhea and syphilis -- and even encouraged many of them to pass the disease on to others.
I am ashamed of our country. What degree of arrogance is required to pull off such "experiments?" What sense of superiority allows, I assume, white American scientists to test "inferior" ethnicities? There appears to be an underlying assumption that any variance from white/Caucasian and American indicates something sub-human. Notice I said "something," not "someone." Ethically, do we not experiment on objects, rather than people? Or on animals, and even that realm involves debatable ethics. But to experiment on human beings, created in the image of God? Human beings who differ from their experimenters only in skin color or income?
Would one of those scientists volunteer his daughter as a lab rat for testing? "Sally, I'm going to inject you with syphilis to see how it impacts your life and also to ascertain any collateral damage, i.e. adverse effects on your future offspring, my grandchildren." I don't think so.
Those Guatemalans and "Negroes" are different, though. Different from us and therefore sub-human.
News flash: It is the scientific elite who have become sub-human. WE have become sub-human. WE who are the most powerful and educated and wealthy and influential nation in the world. And that is terrifying.
Think twice before you bend over for your next injection. You never know; it could be another experiment.