The Tuskegee study began in 1929. A request was made from the Julius Rosenwald fund and the United States Public Health Services (USPHS) determined that in Macon County, Alabama had the highest syphilis rate over six other countries at that time. With these findings, they wanted to test the prevalence of syphilis among blacks and explore the amount of syphilis among African Americans. The Tuskegee Study began in 1932 going through the 1970s by the USPHS. The test included 400 syphilitic men, as well as 200 uninfected men who served as controls in rural Macon County, Alabama. They were told that they were being tested for “bad blood”, however, they were left untreated, eventually dying. Because of the exposing of the study, this study is now a perfect example of unethical conduct in medical research because in 1942, when penicillin was known as a treatment of syphilis, they still did not give the patients penicillin to cure their syphilis. This also turns the study from a “study” to an “experiment” because they are basically testing waiting to see when the syphilis patients to die. Not only is this unethical but it is also cruel because the patients are thinking that they are receiving treatment for their illness, however, it is going untreated. This is not only unfortunate for the patients but also for their family members. The infected men pass it onto their wives and the pregnant wives pass it onto their children, which causes more people to be infected with syphilis. This makes it more challenging because it is harder for babies to fight off infections because their immune system is still growing and developing. If penicillin was never introduced to treat syphilis, there would be an even larger syphilis outbreak and countless people, especially babies and young children would have died.
New illnesses have been found due to untreated syphilis. In the Tuskegee study it was found that if there is syphilitic involvement in the cardiovascular system or the central nervous system, it turned out to be the leading cause of death in 30% of the infected patients. It has also been revealed that this study was also racist. Notice how it was only African Americans involved in the study, they were also lied to because they were initially told that they were being treated for their syphilis, but they never received treatment and even after medication (penicillin) was known to treat syphilis, they still do not receive treatment. If you are involved in medical research, your job is to help those with illnesses, not just sit there and watch their health deteriorate. With patients finding out about this hateful experiment, people are more careful and skeptical of certain doctors they go to, receive medication from, and allow to perform procedures on them. Since this and other studies and experiments have been exposed, hopefully the medical profession will continue to improve, not just through better technology, medications, and machinery but also through trustworthy medical staff.