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

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

Patient *****

Obviously, the major ethical problem with the experiment is that the patients were not ***** sufficient information to give *****ir informed consent to participate in the *****. In the age of information, it may seem impossible ***** understand the depth ***** ***** ignorance the study participants had about their ***** and about the appropriate treatments:

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


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