Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University was sued Wednesday for allegedly playing a role in a horrific research study in the 1940s and 1950s that intentionally infected people in Guatemala with various diseases including syphilis.
The US has previously apologised for the so-called US Public Health Service Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Inoculation Study.
The complaint, which lists 773 individual plaintiffs, claims doctors and scientists affiliated with Johns Hopkins participated in, and encouraged, the human experiments in Guatemala on children, prison inmates, prostitutes, and psychiatric hospital patients.
“In the relatively small world of venereal disease researchers at the time, many preeminent in the field were employed by or were agents of Hopkins,” the complaint alleged.
The study itself was funded by a grant from the US National Institutes of Health, but the complaint alleges that Johns Hopkins helped control federal funding for STD research at the time.
For its part, Johns Hopkins refutes the allegation that it played any role in the horrific experiment. Here’s a statement provided to Business Insider:
“Johns Hopkins expresses profound sympathy for individuals and families impacted by the deplorable 1940s syphilis study conducted by the U.S. Government in Guatemala. This was not a Johns Hopkins study. Johns Hopkins did not initiate, pay for, direct or conduct the study in Guatemala. No nonprofit university or hospital has ever been held liable for a study conducted by the US Government.”
Although Johns Hopkins asserts that claims of their participation in the study are false, the validity of the unconscionable human experiments are not in question.
Eight US government officials were sued over the study in 2011, but a federal judge dismissed the case after finding that the federal government couldn’t be held liable for torts outside the US.
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