ince the beginning of the pandemic of 2020, the word virus has become quite popular and trending in the world. However, viruses have been trending for a long time, especially in the first half of the 20th century. A tricky virus that took the world by surprise was hepatitis. To this day, hepatitis still affects many people. The virus is categorized into different branches (from A to E) that are defined by the different chronic diseases it causes.
The good news is that all types of hepatitis are treatable, but only hepatitis A and C are curable. Hepatitis B is the worst as it is the most likely type to develop liver cancer or even liver failure. We are still in search of a cure for Hepatitis B.
In this article, I want to present lesser-known research done on the spread of hepatitis which proves to be once again very unethical, just as most of the 20th-century medicine. In 1947, research based on the spread as well as the mass manifestation of hepatitis was conducted by Dr. Joseph Stokes Junior.
Dr. Stokes gathered a “focus group” made up of inmates from various prisons who were fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Between the three meals, they would also be given milkshakes as dessert. The only trick was that those milkshakes were infected with the hepatitis virus. The milkshakes would be made with either vanilla or chocolate flavor and some blended liver infected with hepatitis. In some cases, they would also use feces from hepatitis patients.
The prisoners used in the research were never told what the milkshake actually contained. Neither is there any evidence of a document that would have allowed this research to take place? Slow and steady, day-by-day patients would manifest various symptoms, representing the different types of hepatitis they would develop. This research also showed that the type of hepatitis developed by an individual can be caused by the blood type the individual has. This is due to some types of blood having a higher count of white blood cells.
Most of the prisoners developed (as expected) liver problems which later on developed into major health issues. The liver is our body’s filter for everything that we intake. Bad things, such as alcohol or other acids found in food are soaked up by the liver. If the liver does not function at 100% of its capability, this means it cannot properly filter the bad stuff from things that we consume, putting our other organs at risk.
What is even worst about the experiment was phase two that overlooked how the virus would spread in a crowded environment. All of the prisoners who were infected were sent back to their prisons to analyze how quickly the rest of the inmates would get infected based on the normal level of interaction they would have between them. Until 1949, Dr. Stokes continued with such tests and gathered lots of data on how the virus manifests as well as how it spreads.
In 1950, Dr. Stokes performed another test with 200 female inmates who were once again intentionally infected without their consent. This was done so that the doctor could gather more data on the virus to better understand the way it manifests, and what was most valuable, the way it can be controlled in case it manifests.
Besides all of the unethical business going on, Dr. Stokes found some very valuable information. It turns out that a person infected with a specific type of hepatitis (e.g. hepatitis A) is very likely to infect a person with a different type of hepatitis (e.g. hepatitis B). This showed the medical industry that the virus depends on more factors than just the type of blood an infected person has.