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-break*****g advances in the treatment of syphilis, but because the study was conducted on human participants who had not given informed c*****sent, and resulted in needless pain and suffering for ***** of those subjects. While ***** 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 *****ir disease, ***** led them to believe ***** they were getting treatment, when they actually were *****.

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

Patient consent

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

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


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