Shocking Details of 1940’s Syphilis Medical Experiment

On Monday a panel revealed some shocking details of a United States medical experiment that was done in the 1940’s in Guatemala. One of the shocking details was the decision to do a syphilis study by re-infecting a woman who was dying with gonorrhea and she died six months later. Information that has come to light indicates that the researchers were unethical by putting human decency second and their own advancement in medicine in first place.

For two years, from 1946-1948, the Pan American Sanitary Bureau and the United States Public Health Service along with several government agencies from Guatemalan worked together to do the medical research. The United States government paid for these experiments. This medical research involved exposing one thousand three hundred people deliberately to diseases that were sexually transmitted.

What they were apparently trying to do with this medical research was to see whether penicillin could help to prevent an infection in these people who were exposed to gonorrhea, chancroid, or syphilis. Some of these people included prisoners, prostitutes, soldiers, and mental patients who had syphilis.

Of the ones that were infected only about seven hundred received any type of treatment and eighty-three people died but if their deaths were due directly to the experiments is not known. After doing these experiments, all the research showed was that no medical information obtained was useful and was kept secret for many decades until it last year when it came out.. During the time these experiments were being done, studies were not regulated.