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Guatemala study researchers tried to keep information secret, new report shows

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 19 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5994
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

The US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has released its report on the study of the effectiveness of antibiotics in Guatemala in the 1940s and 1950s in which about 1300 people were deliberately infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

President Barack Obama, the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, and the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, apologised to the president of Guatemala after the experiments were discovered last year by Susan Reverby, an historian at Wellesley College, Massachusetts (BMJ 2010;341:c5494, doi:10.1136/bmj.c5494).

The Guatemala study’s protocol was approved by the US attorney general, the US surgeon general, military medical officials, and an array of high ranking doctors and medical school experts. However, the investigators marked …

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