In an extraordinarily sad moment for science and for American history, some four hundred black males from the County of Macon in Alabama were assembled for a scientific analysis. The apparent goal was to examine how syphilis developed. The testing and examinations took place over for forty years. No cure for syphilis existed at the time the study took place. It is therefore shocking that black males were singled out to be subjected to these experiments when they were unaware of the precise details of the study and when there was no known cure. Worse, in terms of assigning culpability, the research project was overseen by the United States Public Health Service with the aid of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This was therefore not an isolated private type of study about which prominent health professionals were unaware; quite the contrary, this research was carried out and known about by the American government, the academic world, and many prominent medical workers. What began as a smaller project developed into a much wider type of clinical research project.
Black males, as the research subjects, were consistently told incorrect information, they were not given proper medical treatment as medical ethics demands, and the research and the black test subjects were treated in ways would by modern standards constitute serious legal and moral trespasses. Finally, the effects for the four hundred black test subjects were both extraordinarily damaging and could have been prevented. This would be like treating today’s illegal immigrants with AIDs without providing treatment or warning the test subjects of the risks. Subjecting any person, let alone on the basis of an ethnic classification, is patently immoral. America should be ashamed of this period of its history.
Tuskegee Study: The Deadly Deception. May 26, 2010 <http://www.pbs.org>