Johns Hopkins University sued over STD experiments on people of color


It is a fact that the U.S. government has conducted medical experiments on people of color such as in the Tuskeegee syphilis study. But what is not known is the full extent of medical experimentation outside U.S. borders. A recent lawsuit launched against prestigious Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation may shed light on an immoral and inhumane study in Guatemala.

In the study, hundreds of Guatemalan citizens were deliberately infected with syphilis and gonorrhea by U.S. medical staff from 1945 until the programs ended in 1956. The patients were the poor of Guatemala and included prisoners, mental patients and orphans. According to the lawsuit, Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation helped “design, support, encourage and finance” the experiments by employing medical and research staff. According to one survivor of the experimentation, the doctors where all White.

Some may think that the story of mass experimentation on people of color is just another conspiracy theory but the fact remains this did happen. In 2010 then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized on behalf of the government for its role in the study. A presidential commission on bioethics found the experimentation in Guatemala “involved unconscionable basic violations of ethics.”

The lawsuit is asking for $1 billion in damages for the more than 800 survivors and family members affected by the tests. The suit describes in graphic detail what people were subjected to, which included:

– Prostitutes were infected with venereal diseases and then provided sex to subjects for intentional transmission of the disease.

– Subjects were inoculated by injection of syphilis spirochaetes into the spinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord, under the skin, and on mucous membranes.

– An emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhea was spread under the foreskin of the penis in male subjects.

– The penises of male subjects were scraped and scarified and then coated with the emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhea.

– A woman from the psychiatric hospital was injected with syphilis, developed skin lesions and wasting, and then had gonorrheal pus from a male subject injected into both of her eyes.

– Children were subjected to blood studies to check for the presence of venereal diseases.

Attempts to sue the U.S. government failed under the Federal Tort Claims Act in 2012 because a judge decided that the government couldn’t be held liable for actions outside the United States. The decision was then made to go after the separate private entities involved in the experimentation, which also includes several pharmaceutical companies. Both Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation have denied liability in the experiments and have stated they will defend themselves from the lawsuit.

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