Saying “the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) has perpetrated a 21st century Tuskegee Experiment on nearly 500 New York City children over the course of 15 years,” New York State Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright (D- Central Harlem/West Harlem) today demanded that the Vera Institute of Justice in conjunction with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services conduct a thorough investigation of ACS policy in light of its enrollment HIV-positive children who are in foster care in clinical drug trials during the late 1980s to 2001.
Assemblyman Wright also announced that he has introduced legislation (A. 6217) that would require the commissioner of the Administration of Children’s Services to obtain an order of consent from the court before allowing experimental drug testing on children under the care and/or control of the ACS.
“I suppose I should feel some encouragement from the fact that an independent review of Administration policy will be conducted. Any encouragement is immediately dashed, however, when we realize the gravity of the questions that must be answered,” Wright said, adding that the questions include:
Who made the decision to administer the drugs?
How old were the children, and where were they from?
Given that this program began in an era when people had yet to fully comprehend the how and why people contracted HIV, were the children made aware of what medications they were taking, and for what they were taking them?
Given that medical science was not nearly advanced at the time this program began, was sound medical science utilized in administration of these drugs?
- Were the foster or birth parents made aware, and was permission given?
Wright added that the use of the foster children is particularly galling when one considers that in the late 1980s, that nation was still dealing with significant fear and hysteria when it came to AIDS. “There is no question that drug trials have helped to increase the life expectancy of those living with HIV. The question is whether children in foster care settings, children who obviously have already suffered greatly in their young lives, should be given experimental treatments. I have no problem with consenting adults undergoing these programs, but doing this to children who may not know better, and whose parents might not have been informed is akin to treating them like animals you’d find in a lab -- rats or guinea pigs,” Wright concluded.