US experiment gave Guatemalans syphilis, report says

ATLANTA — Federal officials have released thousands of pages of records detailing a U.S. medical experiment that deliberately infected Guatemalans with syphilis more than 60 years ago.

The U.S. government apologized to the Guatemalan government last fall for the unethical research. Now, the National Archives has posted online the records of the late Dr. John C. Cutler. He was the U.S. researcher who led the experiment that infected prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis. The purpose was to test if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent some sexually transmitted infections.

The papers show a Guatemalan health official first proposed that U.S. doctors do the study. And as the study concluded, a Guatemalan prison official called Cutler "noble." But it's not clear if each official knew all the details of the research.

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