The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

U.S. Doctors Deliberately Infected Guatemalans with Syphilis

Oct 25, 2010

U.S. doctors deliberately infected around 700 poor women, mental hospital patients, army privates and prisoners in Guatemala with syphilis to study the effects of the disease between 1946 and 1948. They sometimes gave penicillin to freshly infected humans; but there were apparently no follow ups to check whether the treatment worked. These experiments included 438 children in the national orphanage, whose blood was tested for syphilis.

These outrageous facts were discovered recently by a medical historian who was going through all U.S. government records.

It was all very “scientific.” To infect the men, a doctor held the subject’s penis, pulled back the foreskin, abraded the head of the penis, put the syphilitic solution onto a cotton gauze and placed the gauze on the abraded penis skin for one or two hours. In other experiments, women who contracted syphilis were also sent to prison to infect the inmates. The U.S. doctors also placed syphilis germs on uninfected women’s cervix before these women were sent to the prison.

Dr. John C. Cutler, of the U.S. Public Health Service, headed these horrible human experiments, under the supervision of Doctor Thomas Parran, the U.S. Surgeon General, and Harry Eagle of the National Cancer Institute.

After these experiments ended in Guatemala in 1948, Dr. Cutler went on to do another study in 1953, this time deliberately infecting 62 inmates at New York’s Sing Sing prison with syphilis. For this work, Dr. Cutler was promoted to assistant Surgeon General in 1958. In the 1960s Cutler was also involved in the Tuskegee syphilis experiments. From 1932 to 1972, government officials lied to 400 impoverished black men, who had contracted syphilis, pretending to treat them for the disease, in order for government researchers to watch how the disease progressed, making the men blind or insane and eventually killing them.

Between 1946 and 1947, while all these horrible experiments were being carried out in Guatemala, the U.S. government prosecuted Nazi doctors in Nuremberg for doing similar experiments on humans.

Only those who lose a war are prosecuted as “war criminals.”