The Tuskegee Syphilis Study

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The Tuskegee syphilis experiment was subject to heated debates raisedby human rights’ bodies due to its exposure of human beings todangerous experiments. Researchers overlooked several ethicalconsiderations in the study. First, the participants took part in thestudy without their consent (CDC, 2013). The researchers acted ashealth providers who to the desperate community in Alabama while theywere certain that they were researching on the effects of untreatedsyphilis. None of the participants participated after being briefedon the nature of the study.

Secondly, the research exposed citizens to dangerous body conditions.The participants suffered from syphilis, and the lack of the correctdrug worsened their condition (CDC, 2013). However, within theperiod between 1932 and 1972, medical researchers had developed adrug to treat syphilis. The researchers deliberately withheld thetreatment from the patients to observe the effects of the untreateddisease (CDC, 2013). The move was ethically wrong since it put thelives of the participants in danger despite the presence of the drug.

Also, it was ethically wrong to pitch a research camp in a communitythat was vulnerable and susceptible to external influence. Theresearchers wooed the participants by offering them treatment for anunknown condition. Although the researchers knew that the patientswere suffering from syphilis, they all believed that they were ailingfrom bad blood (CDC, 2013). They thought that the medicalprofessional acted in good faith while it was not the case.

The information has several implications for the recruitment of humanparticipants in the Ironridge study. First, it will be necessary toseek the consent of all the participants. Taking part in the studyshould only be on a voluntary basis without undue influence. Also,for experiments that may put people lived in danger, it will bemorally wrong to subject them as specimens without their knowledge.Finally, even before accepting to take part in the study or turningdown the request, they should be well acquainted with the objectivesof the study and the intention of the researcher.


Center forDisease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013). U.S. public healthservice syphilis study at Tuskegee, 1932-1972. Retrieved from