The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

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"The United States government did something that was wrong--deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens. . . . clearly racist." This is an excerpt from former President Clinton's speech and apology to the remaining eight survivors of the Tuskegee Experiment on May 16, 1997, almost 70 years after the "experiment" began in 1932.

Link to Clinton's Speech: http://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/clintonp.htm

I think this is the perfect example of a bad experiment. No, bad isn't the word. Horrendous. Unfair. Racist. Reading this from the textbook, I felt anger and disappointment toward the U.S. Public Health Service. Honestly, I don't think this study should have even been CREATED in the first place. The complete lack of morals and human compassion will forever be associated with this racially exclusive experiment.

It started off as just a simple experiment; they just wanted to find out how syphilis would affect white men versus black men (since it was noted that white men were more subject to neurological damage in comparison to the cardiovascular complications in black men). The plan was to take these men and observe the affects of syphilis from six to nine months, and then treat them afterwards with the appropriate medicine. It metastasized into something else completely. After these six to nine months, the researchers wanted to extend it and eventually used deceptive means to accomplish this. It should be noted that Dr. Taliaferro Clark, the founder of this experiment, disagreed with the methods and eventually quit the study after a year.

After the study was found out by the press, Dr. Heller, a researcher in the study still asserted that, "The men's status did not warrant ethical debate. They were subjects, not patients; clinical material, not sick people."

Link to this quote in the book, Bad Blood, written by James Howard Jones about the Tuskegee Experiment (p. 179):
http://books.google.com/books?id=d_nENw_XPdMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=bad+blood+the+tuskegee&hl=en&ei=XxeSTseDBYeBsgKM6NCoAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

The 600 "clinical material" patients were poor, trusting African-American men, women, and children who believed that they were receiving free healthcare by the US government. It's hard for me to understand why they were treated so unfairly. Most of them had never even seen a doctor. They were surprised and ecstatic for the "healthcare" that they were to receive. Instead, they were greeted with years of non-consensual study and full-on deception that plagued the entire experiment.

My main problem with this experiment is that it was racially exclusive to poor, African-American sharecroppers. And the fact that, at the end of the experiment, HUNDREDS had died from syphilis or syphilis-related causes, and NINETEEN children were infected with congenital syphilis. I just wonder if ANY of the researchers ever looked at the "subjects" and realized, after watching human beings DIE one by one, that they had the medicine to stop all of this (penicillin) but they DIDN'T. All for the sake of "science". It honestly amazes me that it lasted ONE year nevertheless FORTY years.

Science is supposed to help people. We want to become doctors and researchers to IMPROVE the human condition. Not warrant the right to treat HUMAN life as a clinical trial. There is a limit to what science SHOULD do. There is a limit on how you treat other human beings. The ends DO NOT outweigh the means. This is unacceptable. It is an outrage to the medical science community.

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This page contains a single entry by nguy1631 published on October 9, 2011 4:26 PM.

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