U.S. officially apologizes for giving Guatemalans gonorrhea

Pin it

Two women's studies professors at Wellesley College recently uncovered evidence of an experiment performed on Guatemalans by the U.S. over sixty years ago. What did said experiment consist of? Giving them gonorrhea:

The researchers were trying to determine whether the antibiotic penicillin could prevent early syphilis infection, not just cure it, Reverby writes. After the subjects were infected with the syphilis bacteria — through visits with prostitutes who had the disease and direct inoculations — Reverby notes that it is unclear whether they were later cured or given proper treatment.

But it's not quite as sexy as that, and it wasn't just gonorrhea. The U.S. "intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission…Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study."

Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will deliver an official apology to the people of Guatemala today.