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Guatemala finds more victims of U.S. syphilis experiment
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Guatemala finds more victims of U.S. syphilis experiment

American scientists infected prisoners, mental patients in '40s

  • Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said he wants the six known survivors of a U.S. syphilis experiment to be compensated.
    Keneth Cruz/FlickrGuatemalan President Alvaro Colom said he wants the six known survivors of a U.S. syphilis experiment to be compensated.

A U.S. syphilis experiment in Guatemala, in which prisoners, mental patients and others were deliberately infected with the disease, affected more victims than previously thought. 

The experiment, which ran from 1946-1948 was funded by the U.S. government and carried out by American scientists to study the effects of the disease. 

Previously, authorities believed that it involved 1,300 people — soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients. None were told what was happening to them, and none were given the opportunity to opt-out. 

The study was uncovered last year, when a professor delving in old archives in the United States found some incriminating papers. The current U.S. government has apologized,and President Barack Obama had a commission formed to investigate the extent of the problem.

A few months ago, the commission determined that about 1,300 people had been infected with syphilis, gonorrhea or another sexually transmitted disease. Only about half received treatment. The rest were left to suffer. 

Now, the Guatemalan government has determined that the number of victims may be far higher — some 2,082 people. And there are six living survivors that they've identified. 

The government hasn't released any names yet, but you can bet the press will find them. If there are any victims willing to speak out, it would go further in exposing what's happened than all the telling documents in the world.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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