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Day 8 of Black History Month: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

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The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Black Male was a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service. The purpose of this study was to observe the natural history of untreated syphilis; the poor Black men in the study were told they were receiving free health care from the United States government, which was a lie.

 

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The study recruited 600 black men, of which 399 were diagnosed with syphilis. The researchers never obtained informed consent from the men and never told the men with syphilis that they were not being treated but were simply being watched until they died and their bodies examined for ravages of the disease.

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Several men died, 40 wives contracted the disease, and 19 children were born with congenital syphilis.

On May 16, 1997, President Bill Clinton formally apologized on behalf of the United States to victims of the experiment.

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