The Tuskegee Experiment

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What was the Tuskegee experiment? The Tuskegee experiment was a public health service study conducted for forty years between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama. The experiment’s name comes from the Tuskegee Institute which is a black university founded by Booker T. Washington. The aim of the experiment was to study how untreated syphilis develops and how it affects blacks as opposed to whites. The syphilis disease affected poor rural black men in the United States Government. These people affected by the syphilis disease were not offered any medical treatment. During the course of the study, the men were at regular intervals called in to receive “treatments” which were not actually treatments but medical tests used to determine the seriousness of their conditions, and the development of the syphilis was noted by the research team. The research team of doctors had no intention of giving treatments to the affected. The participants were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. They were informed that they were being treated for bad blood which was a lie. They were even pleased because participating in the study assured them of free medical care, free meals etc. The experiment was brought to the notice of the media in 1972. News anchor; Harry Reasoner described it as a test that “used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone.” Even as the Public Health Service was exposed, they remained impenitent and said that the black men volunteered themselves to be used as an experiment. The Government later ended the experiment. The Public Health Service still justified its actions by saying that the experiment was for the “greater good of science”. At the end of the experiment, 28 men died directly of syphilis, 100 died as a result of related complications, 40

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