Guatemalan Syphilis Experiment
- Year(s) Conducted: 1946 to 1948
- Nation Involved: The United States of America & Guatemala
When governments conducted experiments on their own people in the 1940s, you normally only saw it happen with just one nation. Yet in this situation, two were involved. From 1946 to 1948, American Public Health doctors infected 700 prison inmates, mental patients, and soldiers with STDs. Prisons in Guatemala allow conjugal visits, and thus, many prisoners get it on with a wife or girlfriend. Yet others can have “fun” with a prostitute. The U.S. National Institutes of Health decided to send in prostitutes already infected with syphilis for the prisoners to “get it on” with.
Many had infectious bacteria rubbed into scrapes or open cuts on their male members, arms, and faces. Those that contracted the illness were given antibiotics to test the effectiveness of the drugs on STDs. Most of these experiments were conducted on Guatemalan citizens with the U.S. only involved medically. Yet these experiments were conducted in partnership with the Guatemalan Health Ministries, and then-Guatemalan President Juan José Arévalo knew about it. In fact, he even cleared it to happen himself. Around 30 people were said to have died directly as a result of these experiments.