History August 22, 2017 at 05:00 am

Controversial Clinical Trials That Used Black People as Guinea Pigs

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

Fredrick Ngugi August 22, 2017 at 05:00 am

August 22, 2017 at 05:00 am | History

Tuskegee Syphilis Research

Medical researchers take blood samples from “volunteers of” Tuskegee Syphilis Research. Photo credit: Huffington Post

Tuskegee Syphilis Research

Also referred to as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, this was a scandalous clinical experiment carried out from 1932 to 1972 by the American Public Health Service for purposes of observing the natural progression of untreated syphilis in poor African-American communities in Alabama.

In partnership with Tuskegee University, the American government enrolled a total of six hundred poor black men; 399 of whom had previously contracted the sexually transmitted disease. The remaining 201 didn’t have the disease.

The “volunteers” were promised free medical care, meals and free burial insurance, but very few of them lived to enjoy the rewards. When the funds for treatment were withdrawn, the government secretly continued with the study without informing the men that they would never be treated. Most of the men died of syphilis along with their wives, while others gave birth to children with congenital syphilis.

Unfortunately, nobody was held responsible for their deaths. The only redress offered was a presidential apology issued by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

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