Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

From 1932 to 1972, the United States Public Health Service conducted a non-therapeutic experiment involving over 400 black male sharecroppers infected with syphilis. The Tuskegee Study had nothing to do with treatment. It purpose was to trace the spontaneous evolution of the disease in order to learn how syphilis affected black subjects. The men were not told they had syphilis; they were not warned about what the disease might do to them; and, with the exception of a smattering of medication during the first few months, they were not given health care. Instead of the powerful drugs they required, they were given aspirin for their aches and pains. Health officials systematically deceived the men into believing they were patients in a government study of bad blood, a catch-all phrase black sharecroppers used to describe a host of illnesses. At the end of this 40 year deathwatch, more than 100 men had died from syphilis or related complications.


by James H Jones