Wednesday, February 15, 2012
People might think that this can't happen today but one should remember that this outrage was just halted 40 years ago. One can only wonder how long it would have continued if reporter Jean Heller had not brought it to light or if it would have finally been covered up to this day. This begs the question, what else should we know? It's a sad state of affairs when it is so difficult to have confidence in what is supposed to be our own democratic government.
The Tuskegee Institute, located in Macon County Alabama, was opened in 1881 by Booker T. Washington. It was founded as the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers and became America’s leading Black agricultural and industrial school.
Between the years 1932 and 1972, the United States Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, conducted a study on the effects syphilis has on the human body. The study was meant to determine the different ways that the disease effected blacks as opposed to whites. It was thought that syphilis did more damage to the white race’s neurological system while mainly affecting the cardiovascular system of the black race. The plan was to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in poor, rural black men. The team of doctors and researchers recruited 600 poor and uneducated black men from the Macon County area. Three hundred and ninety nine of these men already had syphilis, and the other two hundred and one did not.
To entice the men into participating in their study, the researchers offered them free medical care, hot meals, and free burial insurance. The doctors withheld from the men the fact that they were suffering from syphilis and instead told them that they were being treated for “bad blood.” The term “bad blood” was a local term used to describe several illnesses. The Surgeon General of the United States also participated in enticing the men to continue in the study by sending them certificates of appreciation.
The real reason for the study had to be kept from the patients to ensure their cooperation. Since the men were mostly uneducated sharecroppers, they were easy to manipulate. The true nature of the experiment had nothing to do with treating or curing the disease. The Public Health Service doctors sent letters out to the men saying, “Last Chance for Special Free Treatment.” This was to coax the men into coming in for painful spinal taps.
Watch this interview on Democracry Now
The Dark History of Medical Experimentation from the Nazis to Tuskegee to Puerto Rico
Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (History, Facts, Bad Blood, Bad Science) — Infoplease.com
Black History Month 2012