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Legacy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

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Dr. Stephen B. Thomas, professor of health policy and management and director of the Center for Health Equity, will host a live discussion on his podcast, The Cutting Edge. Topics that will be covered are:

  • The history of racism and discrimination in medicine and public health.
  • Why people of color, Black people in particular, have legitimate reasons for their historic distrust of the medical care delivery system and in clinical research.
  • How populations suffering from health disparities should be priority to be treated.

"The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Syphilis Study at Tuskegee was conducted between 1932 and 1972 to observe the natural history of untreated syphilis. As part of the study, researchers did not collect informed consent from participants and they did not offer treatment, even after it was widely available. The study ended in 1972 on the recommendation of an Ad Hoc Advisory Panel. After the study, sweeping changes to standard research practices were made. Efforts to promote the highest ethical standards in research are ongoing today." - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The intent of the study was to record the natural history of syphilis in Black people. The study was called the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male." When the study was initiated there were no proven treatments for the disease. Researchers told the men participating in the study that they were to be treated for "bad blood." This term was used locally by people to describe a host of diagnosable ailments including but not limited to anemia, fatigue, and syphilis." - Tuskegee University.



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