The Guatemalan syphilis scandal

Witness History

By BBC World Service

The Guatemalan syphilis scandal

Thursday, 20 August

A team of American doctors, led by the distinguished physician Dr John Cutler, carried out secretive STD tests in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948. The doctors experimented on more than one thousand prisoners, sex workers, mental institution inmates and soldiers, injecting them without their consent with syphilis and gonorrhea. In some cases the victims were provided with penicillin to combat the diseases; in many others they weren't given anything. Mike Lanchin speaks to Susan Reverby, a medical historian, who discovered the original documents from the greusome experiments and helped get a public apology for the victims from the Obama administration in October 2010. Photo: A doctor examines the injection site of a female psychiatric patient in Guatemala who was exposed to syphilis, cerca 1948 (from the papers of John Cutler/the National Archives and Records Administration)
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