Johns Hopkins University sued for $1 billion for STD experiments on people of color

Hopkins Hospital Workers
Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation are the objects of a billion-dollar class-action lawsuit resulting from its alleged role in the deliberate infection of hundreds of Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis and gonorrhoea, during a medical experiment program in the 1940s and 1950s.
The lawsuit on behalf of 800 Guatemalans, claims that both prestigious, pristine institutions helped “design, support, encourage and finance” the experiments by employing scientists and physicians involved in the tests, which were designed to ascertain if penicillin could prevent the diseases.
The experiments, which occurred between 1945 and 1956, were kept secret until they were discovered in 2010 by a college professor, Susan Reverby, the Guardian reports.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine held “substantial influence” over the commissioning of the research program by dominating panels that approved federal funding for the research, the suit claims.
Rockefeller Foundation involvement included paying a researcher who was assigned to the experiments in which he travelled to inspect on at least six occasions.
The implementation of this nefarious experimentation was done on the underbelly or so-called throwaways of Guatemala society: Orphans, prisoners and mental health patients were deliberately infected in the experiments.
The suit also claims that predecessor companies of the pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb supplied penicillin for use in the experiments, which they knew to be both secretive and non-consensual.
Now, here’s the kicker in this wicked and clandestine experiment: The program published no findings and did not inform Guatemalans who were infected of the consequences of their participation, nor did it provide them with follow up medical care or inform them of ways to prevent the infections spreading, the lawsuit states.
During the experiments the following occurred:

  1. Prostitutes were infected with venereal disease and then provided for sex to subjects for intentional transmission of the disease;
  2. 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;
  3. An emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhoea was spread under the foreskin of the penis in male subjects;
  4. The penis of male subjects was scraped and scarified and then coated with the emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhea;
  5. A woman from the psychiatric hospital was injected with syphilis, developed skin lesions and wasting, and then had gonorrhoeal pus from a male subject injected into both of her eyes and;
  6. Children were subjected to blood studies to check for the presence of venereal disease.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton apologized back in 2010 after a presidential bioethics commission investigation found the experiments “involved unconscionable basic violations of ethics”.
A federal lawsuit for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act failed in 2012 after a judge determined the United States government cannot be held liable for actions outside the country. Bekman told the Guardian he believed the new lawsuit stood a greater chance of success as it was lodged in the state court of Maryland and against private entities.
For their part, Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation have vigorously denied any involvement in the experiments and are said to be vigorously defending themselves against these allegations.
A spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said the institute expressed “profound sympathy” for the victims of the experiments and their families, but said: “Johns Hopkins did not initiate, pay for, direct of conduct the study in Guatemala. No nonprofit university or hospital has ever been held liable for a study conducted by the US government,” according to the Baltimore Sun.

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