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 the study is so widely known is not because it led to ground-breaking advances in the treatment of syphilis, but because ***** ***** was conducted on human participants who had not given informed c*****sent, ***** resulted in needless pain and suffering for ***** 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 enl*****ted ill men in the study, did not identify the nature of their disease, ***** led them ***** believe ***** they were gett*****g treatment, when they actually ***** not.

While it is tempting to completely condemn the Tuskegee syphil***** study as an example of Americ***** racism, that would be a simplistic explanation ***** how the study occurred. In fact, the study began as an effort ***** justify ***** of syphilis in blacks. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Home, 2008). ***** 1926, ***** ***** identified as a major health concern, impacting 35 percent of the reproductive-aged population. (Centers ***** Dise*****e Control and Prevention, Timeline, *****). However, there was no antibiotic treatment 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, ***** treatments are time consuming, and the 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 ***** treatment *****. However, the researchers decide to follow the men's health ***** demonstrate ***** untreated ***** creates serious health problems, to s***** that the treatment is necessary. By 1935, the ***** were able to publish the first major paper about the ***** ***** ***** syphilis. In 1936, ***** researchers decide to follow the men ***** life and ask the doctors ***** the community to join ***** them in preventing the men from receiving treat*****t. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Timeline, 2008). In 1947, penic*****in is found to cure syphilis, but the men ***** not offered penicillin ***** the study continues, despite ethical *****s, until 1972. ***** 1973, Congress held hearings about ***** study and the study ***** fi***** a class-action lawsuit, which was settled in 1974 for $10 million. (***** for Disease Control ***** Prevention, Timeline, 2008).

***** consent

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

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


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