Working draft:

What if syphilis goes untreated?


This study was conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service and was designed to determine the natural history of untreated latent syphilis.

Over 400 black men with syphilis and about 200 men without syphilis, who served as the controls, were the subjects. The subjects were impoverished sharecroppers from Macon County, Alabama.

The men were recruited without informed consent. In fact, they were misinformed and told that some of the procedures done in the interests of research (e.g., spinal taps) were actually "special free treatment."

By 1936, it was apparent that many more infected men than controls had developed complications.

Ten years later a report of the study indicated that the death rate among those with syphilis was about twice as high as it was among the controls.

Penicilin became available to the military about 1943, and more generally about 1951. The men were neither informed of this, nor treated with the antibiotic.
The study continued (even post-Helsinki) until the first accounts of it appeared in the national press in 1972. In 1997 President Clinton apologized to the study subjects and their families.
"Due to the publicity from the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the National Research Act of 1974 was passed. The National Research Act created the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, which was charged to identify the basic ethical principles that should underlie the conduct of biomedical and behavioral research involving human subjects and to develop guidelines which should be followed to assure that such research is conducted in accordance with those principles."
(So there we go, 1974, rolling behavioral research into something that was a medical issue.)


This is medical. I think it speaks volumes to how many in the medical industry view themselves versus the rest of humanity. For that reason I suspect that it was screened according to the standards of the day in medical research and approved without a second thought by the medical gods.

This is basic Golden Rule stuff, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" (for those who skipped Bible School). It is a sad demonstration of why some think of the Hippocratic Oath as the Hypocritic Oath.

These folks deserve jail time (IMHO). But there is no sense in which industrial-strength reviewing of Social Science proposals is connected to nor justified by this sorry incident.

Is the reason there was no jail time because the Government ran this? Just asking.