The Tuskegee Experiment of Guatemala: U.S. Apologizes for Infecting Citizens with Syphilis-Investiigation Closes


There are some very dark moments in U.S. history connected to our search to learn more about sexually transmitted infection, formerly known as sexual transmitted diseases formerly known as "VD" or venereal disease. While many are familiar with the Tuskegee Experiment (which in essence was an unethical study of the effects of syphilis within a group of African American men who we not given full information about the study they were a part of nor were they given antibiotic treatment once available leading to their eventual deaths as well as the transmission to their partners), it appears this was not the only time this kind of experiment occurred.

From 1946-1948, the U.S. government tested the spread of both syphilis and gonorrhea within a group of Guatemalan prisoners without getting their consent. The prisoners were infected, observed and in limited cases given the penicillin needed to cure them. This information was only recently uncovered by historian Susan M. Reverby (2005/2006), causing an investigation/publicizing of the information (2010) and eventual US apology (2010). While in the case of the Tuskegee Experiment individuals were given financial compensation, it is unclear if this will be the case here. This makes news again as the investigation finally comes to a close. Here are the findings:

It does not appear this will be the last example of this type as the National Institute of Health's Director told reporters "there were probably more than 40 other similar studies conducted on unwitting subjects in the United States before the practice was banned decades ago.

For more information on Prof. Reverby's discovery, NIH's responses and more: