A $1B US Lawsuit Against John Hopkins On STD Trials On Colored People Dismissed

Written by Susan Gichuhi

It is a well documented fact that for centuries, people have been used as western medical trials guinea pigs.

One of the most conspicuous trials that many people are aware of was the Tuskegee syphilis experiment from the 1930s. Researchers studied blacks from poor Alabama communities who had contacted the STI, and sadly they did not inform them of their infection nor do anything to treat them.

Scientists studied poor Blacks in Alabama who had contracted the venereal disease, but did not tell them they had the disease or do anything to cure them. A similar study involving one of America’s most prestigious academic institutions, John Hopkins University has come into the limelight. A lawsuit filed back in April claims that the Rockefeller Foundation along with the academic institution helped conduct similar trials in Guatemala from 1945 to 1956

Marta Orellana was experimented on when she was nine years old.

Marta Orellana was experimented on when she was nine years old.

According to the litigation, inmates, orphans, prostitutes and psychiatric patients were intentionally infected with STIs in an effort to find out which drugs including penicillin worked best in curing the infections. However, the subjects in question were not notified of what had been done, they had no idea they had been infected, which consequently caused some of them to pass on the infections to their spouses, sexual partners and even children.

The lawsuit goes ahead to claim that the Rockefeller foundation funded the research into various public health issues that include venereal infections, and hired scientists who monitored the Guatemala tests.

The lawsuit alleges the Rockefeller Foundation funded Johns Hopkins’ research into public health issues, including venereal diseases, and employed scientists who monitored the Guatemala experiments. The lawsuit also states that Johns Hopkins and the Rockefeller Foundation designed, supported and benefited from the Guatemala experiments.

Here are the various experiments conducted:

  • Different prostitutes were deliberately infected with STIs and then offered for sex to different subjects for the sole purpose of transmitting the infection.
  • The subjects were also inoculated with a syphilis spirochaetes jab injected into the spinal fluid that cleans the spinal cord, brain, under the skin and on mucous membranes
  • A gonorrhea or syphilis laced emulsion was spread under the penis foreskin in males
  • The penis of a male subject was scraped, incised and then coated in the gonorrhea or syphilis laced emulsion
  • A psychiatric woman patient from the hospital was given a syphilis jab, which caused her to develop lesion, wasting and then she given gonorrheal pus from a male subject which was injected into her eyes
  • Children were subject to blood studies to check for the existence of venereal diseases.

This lawsuit has 774 plaintiffs who include various subjects used in the trials, their descendants and they are seeking over $1billion in damages. This is actually the second attempt to collect damages for the same.


In 2012, a class-action federal lawsuit was filed against the U.S. government over the Guatemala experiments conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service. It was dismissed, as the Guatemalans could not sue the United States for grievances that happened overseas. As of then, a new lawsuit has been filed in the Baltimore City Circuit Court.

Both John Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation deny involvement, but do not deny that the experiments took place.  In 2010, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized to Guatemala for the experiments, saying they were “clearly unethical.”

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Susan Gichuhi

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