The Tuskegee Syphilis study was conducted for several decades involving African American male participants from a lower economic group in Macon, Alabama, wherein the researchers have consistently deprived these individuals with proper medical care. Upon the release of information regarding such exploits, people that have acquired such information perceived it negatively. Doubts regarding racial equality in medicine have manifested. It has become evident that having conducted the study is one of the most severe mistakes made by the United States government in history. Even if it was an event that occurred in the past, and the United States government has showed regret for what has transpired, it is important to understand and never forget such an act.
Although it is evident that not much people are aware of the Tuskegee syphilis study, it is a common thought that anyone who realizes the occurrence of such a study is both entitled and expected to react towards it negatively. It is quite infuriating that such lack of care towards people can be shown by a government that supposedly supports freedom, liberty, and equality. It is probable that the physicians from the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) thought of the poor black men as insignificant to the society; hence, the UPSHS selected such a population of the study. The main problem with the study is that people whom the research was conducted on were completely taken advantage of in the basis of their apparent vulnerability especially in terms of economic ability.
Attention to the fact that the black men involved were mostly not living individually but rather in a family was not provided by the UPSHS physicians. These physicians also had no real sense of duty, since the provisions given to test subjects were merely used in order to further entice involvement. The African American families affected were unaware of the real intentions of the study as well as the real nature of their diseases; thus, they were clearly made fools of. Anger, resentment, depression, and a myriad of other negative emotions tend to be evoked in an individual upon learning of this event.
The syphilis infected African Americans that opted to join the study viewed it as a possible way to be cured by saviors that are developing the tools to help them. However, some of them died believing in saviors that were actually murderers in reality. Understandably, these negative perception and emotions are even more amplified among those of African American origin.
African Americans, specifically African American men, possibly have developed a cynical view on the health care system upon realizing that such a study existed. Their interest on participating in health related programs are clouded by the fact that at a certain point in time, members of their race were harshly mistreated in relation to medical research. It is not too much to expect such unwillingness from these people as it is a common belief that things have a habit of reoccurring.
Nevertheless, one should keep in mind that any chance of becoming a test subject, wherein health and welfare are not considered, is a gamble not worth taking. For African Americans, it is possible that they believe that chances of being treated unfairly is increased if they are to become test subjects. Racial biases are a common issue in the United States and the existence of an experiment such as the Tuskegee study just promotes the idea of racial-based inequality in the society.
In relation to this, as the focus of African American men on healthcare is expectedly lowered, the result is that the development of specific research that may benefit their health is possibly impeded. Also, it is evident that such a negative view regarding healthcare is in part the fault of the United States government. Therefore, it was expected for the United States government to correct this problem through any means that is applicable.
Although initially reacting to the problem by providing financial and medical support for the affected African American families in Macon, Alabama, the United States government was aware that such actions will not fix the damage caused by the exposed study. It definitely took a long time, but eventually, in 1997, the president at that time, Bill Clinton, gave a public apology regarding the Tuskegee study. In the public apology, Clinton accepted that what the government did was shameful and stated that he is sorry for what has transpired. It is possible to think and accept that the apology was sufficient as a sign of remorse. The reason is that it is difficult for the head of a powerful country like the U.S. to accept that its government did a great mistake. The effects of an apology are necessary for people to reconsider previous thoughts and negative perceptions, as it entails a sense of sincerity.
As a sign of remorse and as a path resolving severed relationships, the presidential apology is quite satisfactory; however, it does not completely address the problems brought about by the study. The government knew of this fact, and thus, a definite change in ways regarding medical research followed the apology. Hence, the bioethics center was established as a symbol of moving towards a better direction in research. This act was very much praiseworthy, and that the apology is not without merit.
The Tuskegee study has been iconic in terms of breach in ethics and a symbol of racism in the field of medical research. The study, due to the lives that has been sacrificed in its course, has led to the development of negative outlooks of the African American community towards medical research and the government. In effect, an apology was eventually given by the president which brought about positive changes. Even though such an event existed, the level of public knowledge regarding it is relatively low. With the points mentioned regarding the negative effects of the study, it is obvious that such a case must never happen again. Therefore, it is important for information regarding the event to be reflected and remembered even by the global community including the younger generation, so that the formation of another similar study shall never become a possibility again.