Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
The Tuskegee syphilis experiment (also known as the Tuskegee syphilis study) was originally pencilled in as a 6-month study. The experiment actually lasted 40 years, from 1932 to 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama. USA. And It only ended because of a “whistle-blower”
The study was authorised by the US public health service, paid for by the US taxpayer and conducted by government doctors.
The aim was to learn more about how syphilis actually attacks the body and what effects it had if totally untreated by live and then post-mortem studies.
The method was to withhold treatment from 399 men already infected with Syphilis. All of these men were poor, all were black and mostly illiterate
They were all deceived by the promise of free medical care for their condition. 201 further men, who were not infected, were the control side of the experiment. There was absolutely no intention at all of the men being either told they had Syphilis or being treated for it.
“The longest non-therapeutic experiment on human beings in medical history.” James Jones, Author of Bad Blood
The medical establishment has never denied the facts of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, which for many has come to symbolise medical misconduct and a disregard for human rights in the name of science.
The problem was that none of these men (mostly farmers) were told they were specifically infected with syphilis, they were told that they had “bad blood” a local term used to describe several ailments such as Anaemia, fatigue as well as Syphilis.
In return for their co-operation with testing and monitoring the men were given free meals on examination days, free medical examinations and treatment of minor ailments, and burial insurance. For many of these men, this was just amazing, as most had never even been seen by a doctor before in their whole life.
Even when it was known how to help or even cure them with Penicillin they were still not treated because the study was all about seeing what happened when Syphilis went untreated, even though there was now a cure for syphilis.
It was widely known in the mid-1940’s that antibiotics were effective for Syphilis treatment.
At least 40 of the men’s wives were incidentally infected and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis.
In 1972 Peter Buxtun, a former health worker exposed the Tuskegee syphilis experiment scandal to the press via writer Jean Heller of the Associated Press.
A health panel appointed to look into the study found it to be “ethically unjustified”. The study was officially shut down in October 1972.
In 1974 a $9m out of court settlement for compensation was agreed upon. In addition, all medical care and burials were to be paid for as well.
By then 28 of the men had died the agonising death of Syphilis. Another 100 had also died of related complications.
In 1997 President Bill Clinton made a public apology on behalf of the US government
saying the Tuskegee syphilis experiment was “shameful”.
“What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry …
To our African American citizens, I am sorry that your federal government orchestrated a study so clearly racist.” President Bill Clinton
The following excellent Nova documentary explains every detail of the history and people behind the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
Read about Eunice Rivers Laurie – co-ordinator of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
More about a cure for syphilis
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Tuskegee syphilis experiment – (c) 2015-2016 True Stories. V1.0 A,L,G