June 24, 2012
A federal judge has invalidated a lawsuit by victims of U.S. experiments involving venereal disease in Guatemala during the 1940s and 1950s.
For at least eight years, the U.S. Public Health Service experimented on Guatemalans without their knowledge or permission. Prisoners, orphans, prostitutes and soldiers were exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea and other diseases so American researchers, led by Dr. John C. Cutler, could study how the conditions spread among the population.
Cutler was the same doctor who, in the 1960s, also helped coordinate a study that began in 1932 in which 600 African-American men from Tuskegee, Alabama, with syphilis were left untreated for decades to observe the effects of the disease. Although the Tuskegee experiment was scandalous, the Guatemalan one was even worse because Cutler gave syphilis to people who were not already infected.