Victims of Horrific 1940s Study Still Wait in Pain

Slate describes their fight to get compensation
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2017 1:16 PM CST
Updated Mar 1, 2017 1:29 PM CST
Victims of Horrific 1940s Study Still Wait in Pain
"The methods used were even more egregious than what happened in Tuskegee."   (Getty Images/BrianAJackson)

In 2010, Hillary Clinton was among those to apologize on behalf of the US for horrific medical experiments that government researchers performed on Guatemalans in the 1940s. More than 1,000 were infected with STDs without their consent and at least 83 died as researchers sought to prevent illness in those who'd been exposed to disease before the time of penicillin. Seven decades later, the consequences of those experiments are still being felt, Slate reports in a lengthy feature. It describes not only the experiences of participants—who had gonorrhea and syphilis bacteria inserted into their urethras, spinal cords, and eyes—but the effects suffered by their children and grandchildren as the infections have silently passed through the generations.

"The methods used were even more egregious than what happened in Tuskegee," writes Sushma Subramanian, and only 678 of 1,308 people exposed to an STD in the experiments are known to have received treatment. A class-action lawsuit filed against the US government on behalf of victims and their families was dismissed in 2011 because of a rule blocking the US from being sued by a foreign government. A second lawsuit targeting private entities involved in the research is ongoing, but it's complicated by the fact that some plaintiffs can't prove they contracted an STD from the experiments and not a sexual partner. Click for the full piece, which describes one other path to compensation for victims—one that may depend on Donald Trump. (Read more Guatemala stories.)

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