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Health News

Unethical Experiments killed 83

From AFP, via Yahoo News:

At least 83 people died as human guinea pigs in macabre US research on sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala in the 1940s… Cutler and his fellow researchers enrolled 1,500 people in Guatemala, including mental patients, for the study, which aimed to find out if penicillin could be used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Initially, the researchers infected female Guatemalan commercial sex workers with gonorrhea or syphilis, and then encouraged them to have unprotected sex with soldiers or prison inmates…

Cutler, who died in 2003, was also involved in a highly controversial study known as the Tuskegee Experiment in which hundreds of African-American men with late-stage syphilis were observed but given no treatment between 1932 and 1972.

Areas to think about:

  • What safeguards have been put in place since these historical events to prevent similar unethical experiments?
  • What features of the experiment, precisely, made them unethical?
  • Do medical ethics slow the rate of scientific progress? Are they a fundamental, essential marker of our overall progress as a society?

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"It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely, well and justly. And it is impossible to live wisely, well and justly without living a pleasant life". - Epicurus

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