HHS offers aid over Guatemalan STD lawsuit – Washington Times

The same doctor John Charles Cutler, that conducted the 1960’s Tuskegee Alabama Syphilis Experiments on African American Men is also responsible for these atrocities on Guatemalan people in the 1940’s. “Cutler oversaw the syphilis experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s, during which doctors deliberately infected an estimated 1500 Guatemalans, including orphans as young as nine,[4] soldiers, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis without the informed consent of the subjects.[5][6]

The below article details how the US is going to provide aid of 1.8 million to help fight the disease in Guatemala after they introduced it. The US – it must be noted – has only acknowledged blame 60 years later because the remaining families have filed a lawsuit and a Wellesley professor –  Susan Reverby did some digging and unearthed this crime. It leaves me scratching my head.

From the Wellesly website I found the details below:

“In her study, Reverby found many details of the research. The PHS, partnering with Guatemalan health officials and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau in 1946-1948, sent Dr. John C. Cutler to Guatemala to study syphilis transmission, to see if penicillin could be used to prevent syphilis, not just cure it; and to conduct other experiments on what were then called venereal diseases.

Cutler and his team, including Guatemalan physician Juan Funes, induced the disease by allowing inmates in the central penitentiary to have sex with infected prostitutes (which was legal in Guatemala), or gave the disease to the prisoners by inoculating their arms, faces or penises with a solution of the bacteria that causes syphilis. Syphilis is a difficult disease to transfer and cannot grow in a culture so Cutler and his team had to work quickly to make the solutions and inoculations.

“In addition to the penitentiary, the studies took place in an insane asylum and an army barracks,” Reverby explains. “In total, 696 men and women were exposed to the disease and then offered penicillin. The studies went on until 1948 and the records suggest that despite intentions not everyone was probably cured.”

Worse, the subjects had no idea what they were getting into; moreover, those in charge of the institutions were never really told exactly what was going on.”

More information on Reverby’s Tuskegee book can be found at http://www.examiningtuskegee.com.

HHS offers aid over Guatemalan STD lawsuit

Victims’ lawyers not satisfied by U.S. action

By Cheryl Wetzstein | The Washington Times | Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday announced $1.8 million in aid to Guatemalan health authorities to fight sexual disease and improve research with human subjects.

An announcement such as this might have gone unnoticed, but federal lawyers filed legal papers the day before asking for the dismissal of a lawsuit seeking to hold the U.S. government and its public-health officials accountable for the outcomes of Tuskegee-style medical experiments conducted on more than 1,000 Guatemalans in the late 1940s.

In those post-World War II experiments, U.S. public-health officials intentionally infected prisoners, psychiatric patients and soldiers with syphilis, gonorrhea and/or chancroid without their informed consent for study and treatment purposes. Many Guatemalans, however, were left untreated.

Lawyers for the Guatemalan victims said the $1.8 million in aid forGuatemala is a positive action.

But the Department of Justice papers filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on Jan. 9 are an “extremely disappointing” response, given the harms done by U.S. officials to these victims and their families, said Terrence Collingsworth, partner at Conrad & Scherer.

“It’s almost as if there’s a blockade that protects the government with immunity, and when you stack the statutes together … it’s like it’s an impermeable wall,” said Conrad & Scherer attorney Piper Hendricks.

But she said she is “seeing some chinks in that armor,” adding that she and her colleagues would be filing briefs by March 9 before U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton.

In the Justice Department court filings, Tony West, assistant attorney general, and his co-counsel wrote, “As a result of these unethical studies, a terrible wrong has occurred.” But while the United States “is committed to taking appropriate steps to address that wrong,” they wrote, “this lawsuit is not the proper vehicle – and this Court is not the proper forum – through which the consequences of this shameful conduct may be resolved.”

The Justice Department asked that current federal office-holders be dismissed from the case, and cited the Federal Tort Claims Act as a primary basis for immunity for the United States. Lawyers for Mirta Roses Periago, director of the Pan-American Health Organization, also asked the court to “dismiss this case with prejudice” because she and the organization “are indisputably immune from this action.”

The Guatemala case was the subject of a September 2011 report, “Ethically Impossible: STD Research in Guatemala From 1946 to 1948,” conducted by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The case has been described as Tuskegee-style because of its similarities to the infamous Alabama experiments in which black men with syphilis saw doctors but were never told about their syphilis or given treatment for it.

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via HHS offers aid over Guatemalan STD lawsuit – Washington Times.

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