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Tuskegee Syphillis Study

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Tuskegee Syphilis Study In 1932, the public health service along Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, Alabama conducted a study of syphilis. The study’s subjects were 600 black males, 399 who has the disease and 201 without the disease. The project name was Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. The study, which James Jones has described as the longest nontherapeutic experiment on a human being in medical history.
Unethical Research “Deception occurs when the participants are told only part of the truth or when the truth is fully compromised”. (Cooper, 2011) The unethical study was also deemed unconstitutional and in some ways as heinous as a hate crime. The misrepresentation of the actual focus of the program, the disregard of human life, and the actual infecting of human beings. We must also realize that this experiment took place in the rural south when segregation was an acceptable way of life. The fact that blacks were considered not equal so nobody would question the experiments validity or the intentions of the doctors in charge of the research. The men participating were misled by doctors by saying they were being treated for bad blood a general diagnosis given by doctors that could include a variety of common illness. The men were given free funerals, meals, and examinations. These examinations were not treating the disease but were deceptive in nature. Some speculate that the men were actually infected with the disease by the study administrators. “Like many other examples of unethical research, the study reveals how government officials deceive, how methods to protect human beings fail, and how research exploits human beings.” (Jecker, 2003) The study was intended to last one half year and was on-going for 40. These men were used in experiments such as the punctures that doctors administered to the subjects spines. The doctors also utilized metal toxins and aspirin as cures.
Ethical Issues The participants in the study were never told or asked to be in it. The doctor’s only real interest was in their death. The results from these post-mortem examinations were the information they coveted. The men left untreated suffered miserably in death, with paralysis, heart ailments, tumors, blindness, insanity, and dementia. The men were not told of the seriousness of the disease, and that it could be life-threatening. These acts by the doctors violated the men’s right to informed consent, and violate two new laws that were enacted during the four decade experiment. (The Henderson Act, 1943) and (Declaration of Helsinki, 1964) both require that in detail doctors inform all human participating in research to know what they are doing complete transparency. In 1940, the drug penicillin became the treatment method, yet the doctors refused to give the men this or even allow them to use it on their own.
Injured Parties Over time, one hundred and twenty eight men died. 40 wives of the infected men also were infected along with 19 children. These doctors did not engage in transparency with government or the men to show them how not to infect their spouses. Racial insensitivity also played a role in that aspect because of segregation in the south. The injured parties are also African Americans as a whole who do not trust governmental testing for medical purposes.
Affect on Society The lasting effect on society of the unethical Tuskegee study is that several acts and laws have somehow come from this particular atrocity. The health insurance portability and accountability Act. Of 1996 (HIPPAA). This states all medical information concerning health cannot be released to anyone without the patient’s consent. These acts can also help future studies so that the participants are not taken advantage of and the research is fully disclosed to the participants. These behaviors could have been avoided had the government not been complicit in the cover up of this study. Had society even cared for the black people in the south and had all men have been looked at as equal and if the doctor’s actual intent was to find a viable cure for syphilis.
“Ethics are norms or standards of behaviors that guide moral choices about our behavior and our relationship with others.” (Cooper, 2011) In 1972, a board stated the Tuskegee Study was unethical and unjustified. This also put an end to the study because of the harm it caused and for lack of actual research. A lawsuit was filed on behalf all the exploited men. 1 year later the study settled for 10 million dollars and free medical care for all surviving men. The surviving widows and children were added 1 year later. The biggest loser outside of the men is the research itself and society, people do not trust government which may be the reason that more cures are not developed in the future.…...

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