A Study Guide to “Ethically Impossible” STD Research in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues created an ethics study guide based on the Commission’s investigation into the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) experiments conducted in Guatemala in the 1940s.  A Study Guide to “Ethically Impossible” STD Research in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 is designed for use by higher education and other interested members of the public.  It is free and available for immediate use in classrooms and elsewhere.

“The Commission has consistently noted the marked need for more ethics education,” Commission Chair Amy Gutmann, Ph.D.,  said. “We have developed this Study Guide to help educate students at all institutions, including those without ethics departments or access to ethics curricula.  The Study Guide enables students to view this period in our history in a more complete context, including how the Guatemala research was planned and took place.”

“We sincerely hope that college and university professors incorporate this into their already existing ethics classes, or use it to present an ethics discussion in a science, law, medical, history, or any other class,” Gutmann said. “Informal groups of students could use this for self guided discussion. Even book groups or lunch time discussion groups at the office could use this. The point is to get us all talking about ethics. Encouraging people to talk about what happened in Guatemala, and to think and to learn about ethics is another way to both honor the memory of the victims and help ensure that society learns from these offenses.”


This is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. Foreign copyrights may apply.