Monday, August 31, 2009

"It Can't Happen Here!" (Part 3, Human Guinea Pigs)

In this continuation of "It Can't Happen Here!" We will look at how agencies inside the U.S. Government over a period of 4 decades lured low-income black males with the promise of "free health care", free meals, and burial insurance, into participating in a study that costs lives and actually withheld viable treatment for their condition.

In 1932 a study was begun to study syphilis in black males. This study would eventually be known as the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment. [1] [2] The claimed intention of the study was to justify treatment programs for blacks with the disease. The study consisted of 600 black males, 399 with syphilis and 201 that did not have the disease.

In 1947 penicillin became the go to treatment for syphilis and treating this disease. However the participants in the Tuskegee study were not allowed to seek treatment elsewhere, nor were any of them even given penicillin. The disease was allowed to run its course. It was not until 1968 that ethical concerns were voiced by those within the study, in 1969 the CDC reaffirms the need for the study and even gains the support of the AMA and NMA. In 1972 the study was shut down, and Congress begins hearings the following year.

By the end of the study in 1972, only 74 of the test subjects were alive. 28 of the original 399 men had died of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis.

A quote from one of the doctors involved in the study, "The men's status did not warrant ethical debate. They were subjects, not patients; clinical material, not sick people." --Dr. John Heller.

Dr. Heller would also say, "For the most part, doctors and civil servants simply did their jobs. Some merely followed orders, others worked for the glory of science."

So ends part three of "It Can't Happen Here!"

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Kent McManigal said...

A similar experiment, concerning "welfare", is still being run and destroying lives even to this day.