Inmates in a Guatemalan penitentiary, patients in insane asylums and soldiers in an army barracks were deliberately infected with syphilis or gonorrhea. According to [Susan] Reverby, infected prostitutes were recruited to infect Guatemalan prisoners. Reverby reported that ultimately 696 men and women were infected. According to records, the point of the project was to study the efficacy of penicillin, but Reverby reported that not everyone was cured.Johnson contemplates the possibility that the CDC has been treating ME/CFS in a similar fashion—deliberately allowing an infectious disease to spread so they could study its course.
Reverby linked the Guatemalan experiment of the 1940s with the notorious Tuskegee syphilis experiment that began in 1932 in Alabama. In this widely chronicled event, scientists at what would become the Centers for Disease Control identified 400 impoverished black men in Tuskegee with syphilis and denied them and their contacts treatment for the next four decades, purportedly to study the "natural history" of syphilis. In spite of the fact that treatment became available, and that the natural history of syphilis was already well-known, the CDC allowed blacks in Tuskegee to grow ill and to infect their spouses and even infants, who contracted the disease at birth. The Guatemalan debacle was headed by John Cutler, a Public Health Service doctor who was also involved in the Tuskegee experiment.
Even with all the nasty politics surrounding ME/CFS, this speculation strikes me as a little paranoid. I find it easier to believe that the CDC is simply biased, and that its bias leads it to do very bad science.
The sad thing? If you're an ME/CFS patient, the world looks the same to you either way.