U.S. Syphilis Experiments on People of Color / Crimes Against Humanity

From 1932 to 1972 the U.S. Public Health Service in Tuskegee, Alabama conducted a “clinical study” using poor African American sharecroppers to research the progression of untreated syphilis. Approximately 400 poor men of African descent were enticed into the program with free meals, medical exams, and burial insurance. They were never told they had syphilis. They were told they were being treated for “bad blood”, a term used at the time in the African American community for illness with fatigue symptoms. Actually, they were never treated. This “study” became known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment or the Tuskegee Experiment.

According to a Reuters article on Oct. 1st, President Obama offered his personal apology for another syphilis experiment. This time researchers deliberately infected 696 Guatemalan women, mental patients, and prison inmates with the disease. This “study” was to learn the effectiveness of penicillin in treating syphilis. It was conducted from 1946 to 1948.

Guatemalan government released this statement:

“President Alvaro Colom considers these experiments crimes against humanity and Guatemala reserves the right to denounce them in an international court.”

Susan Reverby, a professor of women’s studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts uncovered the “study” while investigating the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment and informed the U.S. government before she published her findings.

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