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Word Count: 1,097
Between 1932 and 1972 the US Public Health Service PHS conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis These men for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness Informed that they were being treated for bad blood their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphiliswhich can include tumors heart disease paralysis blindness insanity and death One of the doctors involved said we have no further interest in these patients until they die The sharecroppers easy to manipulate because they were poor and liked the idea of free medical care said James Jones He also said they were pawns in the longest non- therapeutic experiment on human beings in medical history The study was to compare blacks and whites reaction to syphilis thinking that whites experienced more neurological complications from syphilis whereas blacks would have more cardiovascular damage How this knowledge would have changed clinical treatment of syphilis is uncertain It took almost forty years before someone involved in the study took a hard and honest look at the end results concluding that nothing learned will prevent find or cure a single case of infectious syphilis or bring us closer to our basic mission of controlling venereal disease in the United States When the media caught a hold of the experiment in 1972 news anchor Harry Reasoner described it as an experiment that used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone By the end of the experiment 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis 100 were dead of complications of the disease 40 of
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