Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment Essay Research Paper Between

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Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment Essay, Research Paper Between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for ?bad blood,? their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all. The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis?which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. One of the doctors involved said: ?we have no further

interest in these patients until they die.? The sharecroppers’ easy to manipulate because they were poor and liked the idea of free medical care, said James Jones. He also said they were pawns in ?the longest non- therapeutic experiment on human beings in medical history.? The study was to compare blacks and whites reaction to syphilis, thinking that whites experienced more neurological complications from syphilis whereas blacks would have more cardiovascular damage. How this knowledge would have changed clinical treatment of syphilis is uncertain. It took almost forty years before someone involved in the study took a hard and honest look at the end results, concluding that ?nothing learned will prevent, find, or cure a single case of infectious syphilis or bring us closer to

our basic mission of controlling venereal disease in the United States.? When the media caught a hold of the experiment in 1972, news anchor Harry Reasoner described it as an experiment that ?used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone.? By the end of the experiment, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of complications of the disease, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had congenital syphilis. To get the community to support the experiment, one of the original doctors admitted it ?was necessary to carry on this study under the guise of a demonstration and provide treatment.? At first, the men were prescribed ?syphilis remedies of the day,? bismuth,

neoarsphenamine, and mercury, but in such small amounts that only 3 percent showed any improvement. These token doses of medicine were good public relations and did not interfere with the true aims of the study. Eventually, all syphilis treatment was replaced with ?pink medicine? aspirin. To ensure that the men would show up for a painful and potentially dangerous spinal tap, ?the PHS doctors misled them with a letter full of promotional hype:? ?Last Chance for Special Free Treatment.? The fact that autopsies would eventually be required was also concealed. A doctor explained, ?If the colored population becomes aware that accepting free hospital care means a post-mortem, every darky will leave Macon County . . .? Even the Surgeon General of the United States participated in

enticing the men to remain in the experiment, sending them certificates of appreciation after 25 years in the study. Believe it or not, not only white people took part in the experiment, black people were also involved. The experiment’s name comes from the Tuskegee Institute, the black university founded by Booker T. Washington. Its affiliated hospital lent the PHS its medical facilities for the study, and other predominantly black institutions as well as local black doctors also participated. Eunice Rivers, a black nurse, played a huge part in the experiment for 40 years. A lot of them did it for the promise of great recognition. A Tuskegee doctor, for example, praised ?the educational advantages offered our interns and nurses as well as the added standing it will give the