Holy crap, did he just cut a notch in your dong?
"Whoops, sorry. Let me wipe that wound clean with this totally sterile 'WARNING: BIOHAZARD'-brand Q-Tip."
Congratulations! Your mad dash to escape insane scientific retribution on home soil has brought you straight in the middle of the Guatemala syphilis experiment. Enjoy your brand-new collection of interesting inflammations!
In the 1940s, STDs were a massive health threat to soldiers and citizens alike, and no one knew shit about how to treat them with newfangled antibiotics. America needed to find out whether a penis could be convinced to send a friend request to penicillin, and they needed it fast, lest its people straight-up fuck themselves to death.
So the government sent some of the best medical maniacs of Johns Hopkins University, spearheaded by Dr. John C. Cutler, abroad for some good old-fashioned disease-mongering. Between 1946 and 1948 (and maybe longer than that), they systematically infected unwary Guatemalan soldiers, prostitutes, mental patients, and other "lower-class" citizens with gonorrhea, syphilis, and other STDs to see how they would spread and what would happen, using hilariously awful methods like having doctors nick their patients' dongs and swabbing the cuts with disease emulsions. Then they'd observe, and eventually try to cure, the people they infected. Maybe. If they remembered and felt like it.
"Man, this Guatemalan beer is way more awesome than upholding the fucking Hippocratic oath."
All in all, 1,300 people were deliberately infected with syphilis and other assorted STDs, and an estimated total of 5,500 Guatemalans were involved in the research directly or by proxy. Only an estimated 700 of these 5,500 ever received any sort of treatment, and at least 83 were already dead by the end of 1953.
When the truth of the experiment emerged around 2010, the government immediately issued a heartfelt apology to the Guatemalan people ... the government of Guatemala, that is, because some of their own doctors participated in the research. The U.S. side has been fairly quiet about the incident, apology-wise. Though, to be fair, the billion-dollar lawsuit the Guatemalan victims' families have launched at Johns Hopkins might have something to do with it.
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked weekly columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
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