Tuskegee Experiment Research Project

Tuskegee Experiment Research Project
Tuskegee Experiment Research Project

Tuskegee Experiment Research Project

The Tuskeege experiment is based on the initial international study known as the Oslo study which was conducted in the year 1890 though to 1910. However, the Oslo study came in as a follow up on previous research by Caesar Boeck. E. Bruusgard an assistant initially to Caeser, but as a successor he sought to follow and document how Syphilis progressed whenever no or little treatment is given to patients and the patient’s defence mechanisms were left to fight the disease. The study involved around 437 patients of the 2000 initial patients (MacDonald, 1974). The patients had initial been selected from the Slum district of Oslo and included both men and women. The initial ratio was 36:5 for men to women of the Norwegian nationality (Harrison, 1956). Being a follow up research, the research ended by documenting a conclusion based on the progressive changes and documenting results and findings. According to Bruusgaard, there was data to suggest that had been the continued latency, spontaneous cure and fatal and serious outcome for the patients (Davis, 2008).

The Tuskegee experiment in comparison to the Oslo study investigated the impact of the disease in the black population. It had initially been based on the quest by the Service (PHS) and the Rosenwald fund between the years 1929 through to 1931. Its objective was to identify counties that had the highest rate of syphilis in the African American males in so doing they hoped to identify and treat the disease. Macon County in Alabama was found to have the highest rate of the African American population with about thirty percent of them being infected. The sample selected for the Tuskegee study was about 600 males with 399 patients being infected and 201 being the healthy population. These men were left untreated and their conditions were documented to show how syphilis affected them. The study ended with public uproar owing to the fact that the patients were left unattended even when the cure was existing (Brandt, 1978).

The findings in these two studies took place almost in the same time, the Oslo study despite being a follow up was done between the years 1925 through to 1927. The Tuskegee experiment begun in 1930 through to 1972 when the study spontaneous ended owing to public uproar. The studies had an almost similar objective to investigate the existence of syphilis in patients when the disease was left unattended. There are other similarities that cut between these two studies. The first similarity being the existence of patients that had stayed in a long time without treatment and the patients were often the low income earners who were economically and socially vulnerable. This aspect also reflected in the findings where the patients bodies would selfheal or end up in to fatal death

According to Hubert & Wainer (2012), another study that was conducted in reference to the Tuskegee experiment is the Central American study which took place in 1946 to 1948 under the authority of the US president Harry Truman and Juan Jose Arevalo. The study involved infection of soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis alongside other STD’s without their consent. The study resulted to the death of at least 83 recorded cases. This research begun as a move in World War II to find the best solution to prevent soldiers who would engage in sexual encounters with prostitutes from contracting STD’s. The sample of the population selected for this study was about 1308 individuals who ranged in the ages of 10 through to 72. The study ended with the finding of the solution that penicillin can be relied upon as cure towards treatment of penicillin (Alcena, 2013).

In comparison to the Tuskegee study, there exist both similarities and differences. In the similarities, both studies were conducted without the informed consent of the individuals involved. The second similarity would be the fact that the studies were conducted in controlled environments and the patients would be denied access to medication. Each of these study took place when the other was taking place which means they both were concurrently conducted. The purpose of these two studies were quite different. In the Tuskegee study, researchers focused on identifying the existence of the disease when left unattended, however, the Central American study was focused on ways to prevent the prevalence of the disease between two different people. Although in the results the findings were almost similar since some patients in each of the cases ended up dying, the results identified in the two cases were different since the study employed different approach tactics. However, the objective of the Guatemala syphilis experiment was discovered and the study ended in comparison to the Tuskegee experiment which ended due to public outcry (Hubert & Wainer, 2012).

President Clinton’s role in the Tuskegee experiment was important solely because he was making a formal apology recognizing the existence of injustices that may have been committed to the black community aided by the actions of the government. In the apology, president Clinton made the remark “To the survivors, to the wives and family members, the children and the grandchildren, I say what you know: No power on Earth can give you back the lives lost, the pain suffered, the years of internal torment and anguish. What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say, on behalf of the American people: what the United States government did was shameful. And I am sorry.” To note that existence of injustice. In my view, as the president, it was the first time in the history of this whole event that the government showed its responsibility to protect the public.  As the president, he is the only person who would be required to make this formal apology to the public.

The same case also applied in reference to president Obama’s role in citing the offenses of the Central American Experiment. President Obama may not have been cited in public commenting the issue, he apologised by contacting the Guatemala President and issuing a formal apology. Both the statehouse official under Presidents Obama’s directive made apologies by "The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. In my View, president Obama’s role was important since as the president, his formal apology would be part of the objective improve the US relations with Guatemala. His statement as the president showed President Alvaro Colom the importance of recognizing injustices between communities.





Hubert, L. & Wainer, H. (2012). A statistical guide for the ethically perplexed. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.

Alcena, V. (2013). African Americans and medical diseases: an American health care crisis that is crying for help and actions. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: RoseDog Books.

Brandt, A. M. (1978). Racism and research: the case of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Hastings Center Report, 8(6), 21-29.

MacDonald, C. J. (1974). Communications: The contribution of the Tuskegee study to medical knowledge. Journal of the National Medical Association, 66(1), 1.

Harrison, L. W. (1956). The Oslo study of untreated syphilis review and commentary. British Journal of Venereal Diseases, 32(2), 70.

Davis, G. (2008). The cruel madness of love”: sex, syphilis and psychiatry in Scotland, 1880-1930. Amsterdam New York: Rodopi.

Tuskegee Experiment Research Project

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