Tuskegee Syphilis Study

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Research and Ethics Paper
Axia College of University of Phoenix
June 22, 2009

How can one live with themselves conducting experiments that were unjustified on both moral and ethical grounds, in which human beings were used a guinea pigs back in the twentieth century?
The United States Public Health Service (PHS) conducted a large study regarding the causes and treatments of syphilis and gonorrhea and recruited approximately 399 black men to participate. The men chosen were poor black sharecroppers who lived in Alabama and denied any form of treatment necessary to cure syphilis. They were suffering from the late stages of syphilis and because they were not educated enough to understand what was being done, was informed that they are being treated for bad blood. PHS official’s intentions were to focus on the treating of the disease but due to lack of funds shifted its focus to study the untreated disease over a long term period. The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis, which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death (Info Please, 2009). As reported by the New York Times on July 26, 1972, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was revealed as “the longest nontheraputic experiment on human beings in medical history” Medical institution management and ethics committees should collaborate to apply an ethical policy to every case where experimentation on human beings is an issue. It should also be ensured that all other avenues of research have been exhausted, including research documents and laboratory work involving animals - also according to the applicable set of ethical guidelines. In the democratic and free world we like to believe that we live in today, surely the guidelines for the ethical treatment of all living things should be clearer than ever before. Surely...
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