The National Institutes of Health conducted AIDS studies in the 80s and 90s which left some foster children clinical volunteers dead.
News of the decades-old studies, in which researchers sought HIV-infected foster kids on which to test dangerous new drugs, resurfaces as the nation reels from horrific experiments conducted on beagles by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Health.
In order to recruit the foster children, NIAID ensured “independent advocates” would be on hand to safeguard children’s safety, however this was almost always never the case.
The sometimes-lethal experiments were covered in an Associated Press article by former reporter John Solomon, who documented how the government went about seeking “mostly poor or minority children” to be exposed to “medical research and drugs that were known to have serious side effects in adults and for which the safety for children was unknown.”
The research was conducted in at least seven states – Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Colorado and Texas – and involved more than four dozen different studies. The foster children ranged from infants to late teens, according to interviews and government records.
Several studies that enlisted foster children reported that patients suffered side effects such as rashes, vomiting and sharp drops in infection-fighting blood cells, and one reported a “disturbing” higher death rate among children who took higher doses of a drug, records show.
Solomon explained government researchers in 1983 had agreed to have “child wards” monitor experiments and act as “independent advocates” on behalf of the children’s safety in studies “that involved greater than minimal risk and lacked the promise of direct benefit;” however, this policy was not enforced.
Some foster agencies, including those in Illinois and New York, required researchers to sign a document agreeing to provide the protection regardless of risks and benefits.
However, researchers and foster agencies told AP that foster children in AIDS drug trials often weren’t given such advocates even though research institutions many times promised in writing to do so.
For instance, “Illinois officials believe none of their nearly 200 foster children in AIDS studies got independent monitors,” Solomon reported.
Likewise, “New York City could find records showing 142 – less than a third – of the 465 foster children in AIDS drug trials got such monitors even though city policy required them.”
Researchers at Chicago Children’s Memorial Hospital and Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University also confirmed no child wards monitored their studies.
The lack of safety advocates had dire consequences for the children, especially since they were engaged in risky Phase I and Phase II clinical studies.
“Some foster children died during studies,” Solomon reported. However, just as with current vaccine deaths, “state or city agencies said they could find no records that any deaths were directly caused by experimental treatments.”
Illinois officials confirmed two or three foster children were approved to participate in a mid-1990s study of dapsone. Researchers hoped the drug would prevent a pneumonia that afflicts AIDS patients.
Researchers reported some children had to be taken off the drug because of “serious toxicity,” others developed rashes, and the rates of death and blood toxicity were significantly higher in children who took the medicine daily, rather than weekly.
At least 10 children died from a variety of causes, including four from blood poisoning, and researchers said they were unable to determine a safe, useful dosage. They said the deaths didn’t appear to be “directly attributable” to dapsone but nonetheless were “disturbing.”
“An unexpected finding in our study was that overall mortality while receiving the study drug was significantly higher in the daily dapsone group. This finding remains unexplained,” the researchers concluded.
At the time, University of Pennsylvania medical ethicist Arthur Caplan argued researchers should have allowed child wards and would have known the study dangers since “there was great uncertainty as to how children would react to AIDS medications that were often toxic for adults,” reported Solomon.
“It is exactly that set of circumstances that made it absolutely mandatory to get those kids those advocates,” Caplan said. “It is inexcusable that they wouldn’t have an advocate for each one of those children.
“When you have the most vulnerable subjects imaginable – kids without parents – you really do have to come in with someone independent, who doesn’t have a dog in this fight,” he said.
In 2009, an investigation commissioned by New York City claimed to find “no evidence that any children died as a result of the trials or that the foster children were selected because of their race.”
As noted by National File‘s Tom Pappert, Fauci’s official bio on the NIAID website proudly lists advancements in AIDS research among other accolades.
“As Director of NIAID, Fauci oversees research to “prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious and immune-mediated diseases, including HIV/AIDS” according to the website,” Pappert writes. “In 1988, Fauci became the first Director of the Office of AIDS research.”
Add the children’s deaths to the list of gruesomely egregious horrors carried out by the federal government’s National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases under Fauci’s watch.
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