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Description of Study of The tuskegee Syphilis Study . Created by Willie Fox. The primary researchers. The venereal disease section of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) formed a study group in 1932 at its national headquarters.

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the primary researchers
The primary researchers
  • The venereal disease section of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) formed a study group in 1932 at its national headquarters.
  • Representing the PHS, Talifarro Clark, solicited the participation of the Tuskegee Institute (a well-known historically black college in Alabama, now known as Tuskegee University) and also the inclusion of the Arkansas regional PHS office.

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john heller
John Heller

Director of the Public Health Service's Division of Venereal Diseases

taliaferro clark
Taliaferro clark

Taliaferro Clark was credited with its origin but dropped out when he discovered the intention of other study members to use deceptive practices and extend the study period.

oliver c wenger
Oliver C. Wenger

Oliver Wenger was director of the regional PHS Venereal Disease Clinic in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He and his staff took a lead in developing study procedures.

raymond a vonderlehr
Raymond A. Vonderlehr

Raymond A. Vonderlehr, was appointed on-site director of the research program and developed the policies that shaped the long-term follow-up section of the project. For example, he decided to gain the "consent" of the subjects for spinal taps (to look for signs of neurosyphilis) by depicting the diagnostic test as a "special free treatment". Vonderlehr retired as head of the venereal disease section in 1943, shortly after penicillin had first been shown to be a cure for syphilis.

robert russa moton
Robert russamoton

Robert RussaMoton, the head of Tuskegee Institute at the time, lent his endorsement and institutional resources to the government study.

eugene dibble
Eugene Dibble

Eugene Dibble, of the Tuskegee Medical Hospital, lent his endorsement and institutional resources to the government study.

eunice rivers
Eunice rivers

Nurse Eunice Rivers, an African-American trained at Tuskegee Institute who worked at its affiliated John Andrew Hospital, was recruited at the start of the study.

time period
Time period
  • This study began in 1932 and ended in 1972.
  • The initial goal of Dr. Clark was to follow untreated syphilis in a group of black men for 6 to 9 months, and then follow up with a treatment phase.
participants
participants
  • Investigators enrolled in the study a total of 600 sharecroppers from Macon County, Alabama.
  • 399 of the sharecroppers had previously contracted syphilis before the study began.
  • 201 of the enrolled sharecroppers were began without the disease.
  • Most of the men were poor and illiterate.
methods
methods
  • There were no proven treatments for syphilis when the study began.
  • The intent of the study was to record the natural history of syphilis in Blacks. The study was called the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.
  • The participants were promised medical exams, rides to and from the clinics, meals on examination days, free treatment for minor ailments and guarantees that provisions would be made after their deaths in terms of burial stipends paid to their survivors.
  • Scientists began by observing how syphilis affected around 400 test subjects.
  • Scientist began applying methods that were only mildly effective.  The scientists understood that these methods would not cure the subjects, but wanted to see how their bodies would react anyway.
  • After the research, subjects continued to be studied through the use of spinal taps and the threat of losing their burial insurance.
results
results
  • In 1947 penicillin became the standard treatment for the disease.
  • In order to continue to study the effects of syphilis on African-Americans, subjects were denied treatment.
  • In 1972, the Associated Press reported that there had been a 40-year non-theraputic experiment on the effects of untreated syphilis on Black men in the rural south.
  • The Assistant Secretary of Health and Scientific Affairs appointed an Ad Hoc Advisory Panel to review the study.
  • The Panel ended the study and determined it to be ethically unjustified.