The United States government committed an act of torture against U.S. citizens in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution and human rights. 

For forty years between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) department, conducted an experiment on 399 black men infected with syphilis.

These men, for the most part, were poor farmers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama. They were never told what disease they were suffering from or its seriousness. The doctors that were treating them had no intention of curing them of syphilis, they were ordered to lie to them in order to collect data. a5e9df9279a0afb61c97b3189c90832d.jpgThe government wanted information on how the disease progressed, what damage it would do to the human body, and any additional information once it killed them. They especially wanted information to be collected from the autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis.

The men suffered and died with symptoms that included; tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, and insanity. 

Below are the Surgeon Generals that had to repeatedly sign off on the experiment to keep it going from one presidency to the next.

RADM Hugh S. Cumming: 5th Surgeon General 1920 to 1936
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RADM Thomas Parran, Jr.: 6th Surgeon General 1936 to 1948
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RADM Leonard A. Scheele: 7th Surgeon General 1948 to 1956
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RADM Leroy Edgar Burney: 8th Surgeon General 1956 to 1961
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RADM Luther Terry: 9th Surgeon General 1961 to 1965
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VADM William H. Stewart: 10th Surgeon General 1965 to 1969
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RADM Jesse Leonard Steinfeld: 11th Surgeon General 1969 to 1973
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Using Human Beings as Laboratory Animals

The true nature of the experiment was kept secret from the victims to ensure their cooperation. The sharecroppers were grossly disadvantaged and poor. They easily agreed to a program for free medical care. These poor and trusting men became victims of a cold heartless government. The fact that autopsies would eventually be required was also concealed. As a doctor explained, “If the colored population becomes aware that accepting free hospital care means a post-mortem, every darky will leave Macon County…

  • By the end of the experiment:
    • 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis
    • 100 were dead of related complications
    • 40 of their wives had been infected
    • 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis

One Surgeon General of the United States participated in enticing the men to remain in the experiment, sending them certificates of appreciation after 25 years in the study.

One of the most chilling aspects of the experiment was how zealously the PHS kept these men from receiving treatment. When several nationwide campaigns to eradicate venereal disease came to Macon County, the men were prevented from participating.

Even when penicillin was discovered in the 1940s—the first real cure for syphilis—the Tuskegee men were deliberately denied the medication.

The experiment continued in spite of the Henderson Act (1943), a public health law requiring testing and treatment for venereal disease, and in spite of the World Health Organization’s Declaration of Helsinki (1964), which specified that “informed consent” was needed for an experiment involving human beings.

 

1932
Follow-up effort organized into the study of 399 men with syphilis and 201 without. The men would be given periodic physical assessments and told they were being treated. Motin agrees to support study if “Tuskegee Institute gets its full share of the credit” and black professionals are involved (Dr. Dibble and Nurse Rivers are assigned to study).
1934
First papers suggest health effects of untreated syphilis.
1936
A major paper was published. Study criticized because it is not known if men are being treated. Local physicians asked to assist with study and not to treat men. The decision was made to follow the men until death.
1940
Efforts made to hinder men from getting treatment ordered under the military draft effort.
1945
Penicillin accepted as the treatment of choice for syphilis.
1947
USPHS establishes “Rapid Treatment Centers” to treat syphilis; men in the study are not treated, but syphilis declines.
1962
Beginning in 1947, 127 black medical students are rotated through unit doing the study.
1968
Concern is raised about ethics of study by Peter Buxtun and others.
1969
CDC reaffirms the need for study and gains local medical societies’ support (AMA and NMA chapters officially support a continuation of the study).
1972
First news articles condemn studies. (Study ends)
1973
Congress holds hearings and a class-action lawsuit is filed on behalf of the study participants.
1974
A $10 million out-of-court settlement is reached and the U.S. government promised to give lifetime medical benefits and burial services to all living participants. The Tuskegee Health Benefit Program (THBP) was established to provide these services.
1975
Wives, widows, and offspring were added to the program.
1995
The program was expanded to include health as well as medical benefits.
1997
On May 16th President Clinton apologizes on behalf of the Nation.
1999
Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care hosts 1st Annual Commemoration of the Presidential Apology.
2001
President’s Council on Bioethics was established.
2004
CDC funds 10 million dollar-cooperative agreement to continue work at Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care.
2004
The last U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee participant dies on January 16.
2006
Tuskegee University holds the formal opening of Bioethics Center.
2007
CDC hosts Commemorating and Transforming the Legacy of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Syphilis Study at Tuskegee.
2009
The last widow receiving THBP benefits dies on January 27.
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Their lives didn’t matter one bit to the country they farmed to feed.

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Evil Is Real, Government Secrets, Health Related

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