Tag Archives | Syphilis

U.S. Reviews Syphilis Experiment In Guatemala: Researchers Knew It Was Unethical

Tuskeegee_studyAll too often groups of people are unknowingly infected with disease as a means of isolated experimentation. Earlier this week the Commision for the Study of Bioethical Issues reviewed the 1940s incidentĀ  where the U.S. government infected Guatemalan prisoners and patients with syphilis. Via Reuters:

U.S. government researchers must have known they were violating ethical standards by deliberately infecting Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis for an experiment in the 1940s, according to a U.S. presidential commission.

The U.S.-funded research in Guatemala did not treat participants as human beings, failing to even inform them they were taking part in research, as was the case for a similar study in the United States, the commission said on Monday.

The United States apologized last year for the experiment, which was meant to test the drug penicillin, after it was uncovered decades later by a college professor.

President Barack Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues investigated the syphilis experiment and discussed its key findings in Washington on Monday.

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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.

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Media Goes Mad Over Facebook Link To Sex Disease

Facebook logoHave you seen all the tabloid headlines linking the rise of Facebook with increased rates of syphilis? The British newspapers, especially, have had a field day tying social media use with sexually transmitted diseases. Some perspective from Gawker:

Syphilis cases are up fourfold in parts of Britain where Facebook is most popular. Mere coincidence? The Telegraph newspaper thinks not, after consulting an expert.

The director of pubic health in Teeside, who is also some kind of professor, tells the paper, “several of the [Teeside infected] people had met sexual partners through these sites…. social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex.” Case closed. Log off of Facebook before the social networking site literally infects you directly. (Also, between this and Facebook’s teen-sex fight with the Daily Mail, the company needs to hire some British flacks, already.)

A Facebook spokesman writes us:

While it makes for interesting headlines, the assertions made in newspaper reports that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of STDs are ridiculous, exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation.

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