Mea Culpa

U.S. Apologizes for Giving Guatemalans Gonorrhea

This one was a no-brainer: On Thursday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized on behalf of the United States for a 1940s medical experiment in which government researchers purposefully infected Guatemalan prisoners, mental patients, and women with gonorrhea and syphilis—without their knowledge or consent. Said Clinton and Sebelius in a statement: "The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical," adding, "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." The research, which was recently discovered by a women’s studies professor at Wellesley College, involved 696 subjects and was to test the drug penicillin, which was new at the time.