Human Guinea Pigs Used To Study Syphilis: Patients Died Untreated

Jean Heller, Human Guinea Pigs Used To Study SyphilisAssociated Press, 24 July 1972. “For 40 years the U.S. Health Service has conducted a study in which human guinea pigs, denied proper medical treatment, have died of syphilis and its side effects. The study was conducted to determine from autopsies what the disease does to the human body.”

Excerpt from story:

“The experiment, called the Tuskegee Study, began in 1932 with about 600 black men, mostly poor and uneducated, from Tuskegee, Ala., an area which had the highest syphilis rate in the nation at the time. One-third of the group was free of syphilis; two-thirds showed evidence of the disease. In the syphilitic group, half were given the best treatment known at the time, but the other half, about 200 men, received no treatment at all for syphilis, PHS officials say.

As incentives to enter the program, the men were promised free transportation to and from hospitals, free hot lunches, free medicine for any disease other than syphilis and free burial after autopsies were performed.

The Tuskegee Study began 10 years before penicillin was discovered to be a cure for syphilis and 15 years before the drug became widely available. Yet even after penicillin became common, and while its use probably could have helped or saved a number of the experiment subjects, the drug was denied them, according to Dr. J.D. Millar…..

Additional resources: The Tuskegee Study: 40 Years of Unethical Medical Experimentation.