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U.S. apologizes for infecting Guatemalans with STDs in 1940s

10-02-2010 08:12 BJT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- The United States apologized Friday for intentionally infecting Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in a research study in 1946-1948 in Guatemala, saying it was "clearly unethical."

"Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health," said a joint statement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. "We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."

"We are launching a thorough investigation into the specifics of this case from 1946," the statement said.

In the research study, U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission, the MSNBC television network said in its website, noting that many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.

"About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment," the MSNBC said, adding the records on experiments were hidden and no useful information was ever provided until they were discovered by Susan Reverby, a professor of women's studies at Wellesley College 12 miles west of Boston, and was posted on her website.

According to Reverby's report, the experiments involved 696 subjects including male prisoners and female patients in the National Mental Health Hospital in Guatemala, and the researchers were trying to determine whether the antibiotic penicillin could prevent dearly syphilis infection, not just cure it.

"The conduct exhibited during the study does not represent the values of the United States, or our commitment to human dignity and great respect for the people of Guatemala. The study is a sad reminder that adequate human subject safeguards did not exist a half-century ago," the statement by Clinton and Sebelius said.

"Today, the regulations that govern U.S.-funded human medical research prohibit these kinds of appalling violations," the statement added. "The United States is unwavering in our commitment to ensure that all human medical studies conducted today meet exacting U.S. and international legal and ethical standards."

It said the U.S. is convening a body of international experts to review and report on the most effective methods to ensure that all human medical research conducted around the globe today meets rigorous ethical standards.

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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