Guatemalans Sue U.S. Over Syphilis Experiments

Depression-era poster. Although penicillin was found to treat syphilis, many of the public who were experimented on did not receive treatment.

Depression-era STD education poster.

This seems like a classic tale in American history: Government finds a poverty-stricken community to perform experiments on, then years later the public realizes what happens and gets upset about. Well, it’s happened again. Via The American Lawyer:

A class action lawsuit on behalf of about 700 Guatemalans who were subjected to syphilis experiments by American doctors in the 1940s will be filed against the U.S. government in three days unless reparations of some kind are made to their families, plaintiffs attorneys said Tuesday.

The Obama administration apologized last October for U.S. government doctors infecting Guatemalans with the syphilis virus from 1946 to 1948 to study how the sexually transmitted disease is passed and whether penicillin treatment was effective.

The experiments came to light in 2009 through research by historian Susan Reverby, a professor of women and gender studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Because of the apology, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Conrad & Scherer and Washington, D.C.-based Parker Wakeman Alonso notified Attorney General Eric Holder that he had until Friday to offer a way to settle claims before the 33-page lawsuit is filed in federal court.

The draft complaint names as class representatives heirs of a Guatemalan experiment victim as well as soldiers who were given the virus without their consent.

[Continues at The American Lawyer]

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  • http://www.nickmeador.org/ ndmeador

    FYI American doctors and pharmaceutical companies still do this sort of thing in Third World countries all the time. Most medical students don’t even see a problem with it.

  • http://www.nickmeador.org/ ndmeador

    FYI American doctors and pharmaceutical companies still do this sort of thing in Third World countries all the time. Most medical students don’t even see a problem with it.