Many deaths could have been prevented with the discovery of penicillin, but the experiments continued.
Bad Blood - The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment - The Most Infamous Biomedical Research Study in America's History
Times were hard, America was in the midst of the Great Depression, the dirty thirties. Syphilis was rampant and there was no cure.
The U.S. Public Health Service began a study on the disease "Syphilis" working together with the Tuskegee Institute in 1932 to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in American men of African descent who were deceived into believing they were receiving free health care from the U.S. Government and were going to be treated for various blood related illnesses including syphilis, anemia and fatigue (bad blood).
The U.S. Government rounded up 600 poor male sharecroppers from Macon County in Alabama, all black, 400 had contracted syphilis at some stage in their life and 200 had never. The study lasted 40 years.
Penicillin an already newly discovered drug was found to cure syphilis in the 40's. The Tuskegee scientists continued with their study, withholding Penicillin and information from their study patients, until 1972 when a whistleblower leaked the evidence to the press.
Many men who had syphilis and were in the study died. Many of their wives and children born with congenital syphilis also died.
A quote from John Heller, Director of Public Health;
"For the most part, doctors and civil servants simply did their jobs. Some merely followed orders, others worked for the glory of science."
Sounds familiar doesn't it? Exactly what the Germans said after the discovery of the Holocaust Concentration Camps,
"We were just following orders."
By 1972, seventy-four of the original test subjects were still alive. Of the 400 men, 28 had died of syphilis, another 100 died of syphilis related complications and 40 wives had been infected bearing 19 children that were born with congenital syphilis.
This all led to congress passing the National Research Act in 1974 to protect people from being used as guinea pigs in scientific studies and in 1997 President Bill Clinton formally apologized.
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