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Tuskegee Experiment

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Essay title: Tuskegee Experiment

Tuskegee Experiment

Beginning in 1932, the Tuskegee Experiment of Untreated Syphilis in the African-American Male was launched by the United States Public Health Service. The study focused on black males in Macon County, Alabama who were infected with syphilis, a common venereal disease. Participants in the study were told that they were being treated for "bad blood" (The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, 2007). Instead of administering treatment, the government doctors who carried out the study provided them with substances, with no pharmacological effect, as medication such as useless sugar pills, even going as far as performing spinal taps under the pretense that the procedure was part of the patients' treatment. The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, so the doctors left the men to degenerate under the latent and tertiary stages of syphilis (Jones, 1993).

For a period of time, a cure for the disease did not exist. This changed in the 1940s with the release of penicillin, a drug that had shown positive results in treating syphilis. The doctors, however, did not grant the patients access to penicillin. In fact, they actively refused it to them. Participants in the study were turned away at treatment centers and even prevented from entering the military, which gave treatment for syphilis infected soldiers.

The experiment was an effort to discover if the disease affected black patients differently than white ones (The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, 2007). The study arose from beliefs in inherent differences between black and white human beings. Dozens of the participants in the Tuskegee experiment were left to die while the doctors presiding over them made no effort to save their lives, even after penicillin became available. By the end of the experiment in 1972, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis. It wasn't until May 16, 1997, that President Bill Clinton apologized on behalf of the U.S. Government to those still alive and the families of those who passed away (Jones, 1993).

The Tuskegee experiment was unethical for many reasons. First of all, the syphilis patients in the Tuskegee experiment became involved under the false pretense of being treated for the disease. They were told they were being treated for "bad blood." They were lied to from the beginning. Second, the healths of the patients were allowed to degenerate without any intervention from the presiding doctors. The doctors actively refused the patients treatment after a cure for the disease became available. Not only did they not intervene when the patients' health began to worsen as a result of the disease, but they went to great lengths to ensure that the patients did

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