Tuskegee Syphilis Study

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"Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company". I can only wonder if it was "people of good quality" such as Dr Taliaferro Clark, the person most commonly attributed with leading the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, to whom Booker Taliaferro(T.) Washington was referring when he spoke those eloquent words so long ago. Doubtful really, as the years 1932-1972, the duration of the Public Health Service Syphilis Study, resulted in one of the greatest injustices ever -------------- upon a people by its own government, a true "black eye" on the face of the American Medical research. As A result of A 1930 venereal disease control project survey identifying Macon County, Alabama as having the highest proportion of syphilis cases among the six southern states examined, in 1933 the venereal disease section of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) initiated a study to examine the destructive effects on the human body of the spirochetal bacterium, Treponema Pallidum commonly known as Syphilis, if untreated and left unmolested. Initially the study was welcomed, as it intended to benefit public health in this impoverished, depressed region as evidenced by the participation by such notable institutions as the Tuskegee institute, founded by the aforementioned Booker T. Washington, who lent its medical center to the PHS to assist with the study. Lured by half truths and seemingly beneficial care and treatment, 399 poor, uneducated African American sharecroppers signed up to participate in this medical catastrophe. Dr. Clark's initial plan was to track the action of the untreated syphilis in the experimental group for a period of six to eight months followed by treatments of the time, Salvarsan, bismuth and mercurial ointments. As a result of the Great Depression, funding intended to support the study by furnishing the treatment medicines became unavailable. Instead of abolishing the study entirely, the plan moved forward in a...
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