From 1932 to 1972, the United States Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention operated an extremely unethical medical experiment on the effects of outcomes of untreated syphilis. During the Tuskegee Experiment hundreds of poor Black men from Macon County, Alabama were enrolled in the study, and treatment for syphilis was withheld from them.
Even after antibiotics became available that could cure syphilis, these men were left to suffer from the disease and to expose their families to syphilis as well. Today we’re learning about the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, a shameful example of racism in American medicine, and a tragedy that still impacts how many Black Americans think about healthcare today.
The Tuskegee Experiment