The Tuskegee Syphilis Trials

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Exploitation has both negative and positive connotations that vary from case to case. Exploitation is a fluid type of manipulation that is beneficial for one of the parties involved, whether or not it is used for malicious or benevolent reasons. The history of exploitation and the control and mistrust that accompany are stained with bad blood. The Tuskegee syphilis trials pertain to the broader negative side of exploitation because African Americans are taken advantage of and are seen as a means to an end. However, when taking a deeper look at power and control, people can view exploitation from a different outlook. Anyone with a job is exploited for their talents, whether or not they admit to it; otherwise society would have no working class…show more content…
One of the many case examples is the Tuskegee syphilis trials that exploited African American men for the use of extensive research purposes. The researchers that were studying untreated syphilis were aware that the African Americans participating in the studied lacked the knowledge to understand what a true clinical study was. They were told that they were receiving free American healthcare, and were not disclosed to the information that they were, in fact, being studied and monitored to find a cure for syphilis. The researchers acted upon the participant’s ignorance to gain insight into syphilis and as stated by Allan Brandt, “When penicillin became widely available in the early 1950’s as the preferred treatment for syphilis, the men did not receive therapy. In fact on several occasions, the USPHS actually sought to prevent treatment”. (21) Over the course of the trials and sometime afterward, withholding the penicillin led to over one hundred deaths of men, women, and children. The ethical stipulations grew continually worse as more information was released, “The study continued, under numerous US Public Health Service supervisors, until 1972, when a leak to the press resulted in its termination on November 16 of that year.” (“Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment” 1) As Allan Brandt explored in his article, the basis of the study and the lack of severe punishment afterwards was based on a consensus, “Scientists speculated that in the struggle for survival the Negro in America was doomed. Particularly prone to disease, vice, and crime, black Americans could not be helped by education or philanthropy.” (21) This experiment was successful in curing a disease and was enacted with good intentions; however, it is still viewed as negative because of the moral and ethical
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