Wellesley prof’s findings result in U.S. apologizing to Guatemala for 1940s STD study

Wellesley College professor and researcher Susan Reverby‘s discovery of an unethical U.S. study from the 1940s on sexually transmitted diseases resulted in an apology to Guatemala Friday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebeliu.

Reverby came across information on the National Institutes of Health experiment, which involved giving people in Guatemala syphilis and then giving them penicillin, while researching a book on the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study. Wellesley College spells out the timeline of Reverby’s research and how Friday’s apology came about.

“The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical,” according to the joint statement from Clinton and Sebelius. “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. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices.”


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