How would you feel if you learned that U.S. government researchers purposely injected Guatemalan prisoners with syphilis?
That's what Susan Reverby, a professor of women's studies and gender studies at Wellesley College, found while doing research for her book on the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study.
As Reverby searched deeper into papers left by the syphilis study's author, the information became increasingly horrific. In an effort to test the effectiveness of penicillin, the United States Public Health Service deliberately infected nearly 700 Guatemalans — prison inmates, mental patients, and soldiers — with venereal diseases between 1946 and 1948. The results of her work prompted an official apology from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala.
This news is the latest in a long line of unethical research experiments conducted on or by U.S. citizens. But what is the status of medical experiments today? How can we be sure this isn't happening elsewhere? Susan Reverby joins us to talk about her latest research and ongoing issues regarding health research at home and abroad.
- Susan Reverby, professor of Women's and Gender Studies, Wellesley College; author of "Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and its Legacy"
- Read Reverby's paper on Guatemala: "Normal Exposure and Innoculation Syphilis: A PHS 'Tuskegee' Doctor in Guatemala, 1946-48"
- Hubbub: Why did Susan Reverby wait so long?
This program aired on October 5, 2010.