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

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Conflict between Research and Ethics: The Tuskegee Syphilis Study


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

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

***** *****

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

These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties ***** Alabama,


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