Essay - Conflict Between Research and Ethics: the Tuskegee Syphilis Study Introduction...

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Conflict between Research and Ethics: The Tuskegee Syphilis Study


The Tuskegee syphilis study is probably the most famous series of medical experiments in U.S. history. Unfortunately, the reason that the ***** is so widely known is not because it led to ground-break*****g advances in the treatment of syphilis, but because the study was conducted on human participants who had ***** given informed consent, and resulted in needless pain and suffering for ***** of those subjects. While it is commonly believed ***** ***** U.S. government infected the test ***** w*****h syphilis, that belief is untrue. On the contrary, the government enlisted ill men in the study, did not identify the nature of *****ir disease, and led them ***** believe ***** they were gett*****g treatment, when they actually ***** *****.

***** it is tempting to completely condemn the Tuskegee syphil***** study as an example ***** American racism, that would be a simplistic expl*****nation of how the study occurred. In fact, the study began as an effort ***** justify treatment of syphilis in blacks. (Centers for Disease Control *****d Prevention, Home, 2008). In 1926, ***** ***** identified as a major health concern, impacting 35 percent of ***** reproductive-aged population. (Centers ***** Disease Control and Prevention, Timeline, 2008). However, there was no antibiotic ***** developed for syphilis; on the contrary, in 1929 ***** ***** institutes an aggressive treatment program using mercury and bismuth, but the cure rate is less than 30 percent, the treatments are time consuming, and ***** side effects ***** the treatment could be toxic, even fatal. (***** for Disease Control and Prevention, *****, 2008). After the market crashes, the powers that be determine that the cost of syphilis treatment in blacks is prohibitive and orders the end of the treatment program. However, the researchers decide to follow the men's health to demonstrate ***** untreated syphilis creates serious ***** problems, to show that ***** treatment is necessary. By 19*****, the ***** were able ***** publish the first ***** paper about the ***** ***** untreated syphilis. In 1936, the researchers decide to follow the men for life ***** ask the doc*****rs ***** the community to join with them in preventing the men from receiving *****. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Timeline, *****). In 1947, penic*****in is found to cure syphilis, but the men are not offered penicillin and the study continues, despite ethical *****s, until 1972. ***** 1973, Congress held hearings about the study and ***** study ***** fi***** a class-action lawsuit, which was settled in 1974 for $10 million. (***** for ***** Control ***** Prevention, *****, 2008).

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Obviously, the major ethical problem with the experiment is ***** ***** patients were ***** given suf*****cient information to give their informed consent to participate in the study. In the age of information, it may seem impossible ***** understand the depth of ***** ignorance the ***** participants had about their disease and about the appropriate treatments:

These men, for ***** most part ill*****erate sharecroppers from one ***** the poorest counties in Alabama,


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