The Tuskeegee Syphilis Study

The Tuskeegee Syphilis Study

  • Submitted By: sthebest
  • Date Submitted: 05/17/2011 8:24 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 642
  • Page: 3
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The Tuskegee Syphilis Study

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study
So, for this week’s assignment, I was asked to compare a historically relevant experiment to IRB standards to determine whether or not it was ethical. Out of the five possible choices, I decided to go with the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.
For the uninformed, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was a clinical study conducted
between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in poor, rural black men who thought duped into thinking that they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government. For participating in the study, the men were given free medical exams, free meals and free burial insurance. They were never told they had syphilis, nor were they ever treated for it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the men were told they were being treated for "bad blood," which was a local term used to describe several illnesses, including syphilis, anemia and fatigue.
After carefully reading through the IRB Handbook, I have concluded that the Tuskegee experiment was unethical for various reasons. The first reason why it was unethical was because it broke main principles of the Belmont Report, which are Respect for Persons, Beneficence, and Justice. Respect for persons involves recognition of the personal dignity and autonomy of individuals, and special protection of those persons with diminished autonomy. This was broken from the beginning when the idea to inject poor Black Americans with a dangerous disease was put into motion. Beneficence entails an obligation to protect persons from harm by maximizing anticipated benefits and minimizing possible risks of harm. This principle was violated researchers knowingly failed to treat patients appropriately after the 1940s validation of penicillin as an effective cure for the disease they were studying. Justice requires...

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