The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was a study that was conducted by the U. S. Public Health Service in Tuskegee, Alabama between 1932 and 1972. In the 1920s and 1930s, syphilis was a well-known disease. It was known as the “bad blood” disease. The U. S Public Health Service believed that this disease affected blacks and whites differently and conducted an experiment to prove their hypothesis. The Tuskegee Institute joined in with the Public Health Service to help with this study.
Investigators brought in six-hundred African American men. Four-hundred out of the six- hundred men were already affected by the disease before the study began. The other two-hundred did not have Syphilis. The men who were infected were told that they will be given free medical cares, meals, and burial insurance for participating in the study. These men did not know they had Syphilis and thought they were being treated for it, but in reality they were not being treated at all, they were being used a Ginny pigs.
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They were told the spinal tap test was their treatment. The study was supposed to be over within 6 months, but the doctors became too fascinated and let it go on. The doctors hired a nurse named Miss Rivers to gain the men’s trust, so she could closely watch them and make sure they do not go see a different doctor outside the Public Health Service. The medical professions did not see anything wrong with what they were doing. After forty years and 28 deaths later, the study was ended.
By the time the men found out they were given false treatment, it was too late. The treatment would not work. There was a lawsuit filed against Public Health Services and each subject received 38,000 dollars. Out of the four hundred men, about 100 died. Some suffered from blindness and other illnesses associated with the disease. The Public Health Service did those men really wrong. Lying to them and making them think they were being treated was very unethical.
The doctors who were treating them were only interested in the men’s autopsies. Black people during that time were not treated as human beings; they were treated like lab rats. Those men could have been treated by penicillin, their lives could have been saved, but their doctors were too arrogant. Also, they learned Syphilis is not different race to race; there was no scientific significance learned by this study. Those black men suffered for no reason.