233748 Tuskegee Syphilis Study: What More is there to Say?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 4:30 PM - 4:50 PM

Susan Reverby, PhD , Women's and Gender Studies, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
Almost no one who works in public health can say they have not heard of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Taught to illustrate the problems with the lack of informed consent, paternalism in medicine, government arrogance, racism, and medical research hubris, the story, of the forty-year (1932-1972) study that involved hundreds of African American men who were deceived into thinking they were being treated, not watched, for their late stage syphilis, is familiar. The paper explores the questions of whether the men were actually infected by the U.S. Public Health Service doctors (they were not) and if any of them actually got to treatment (they did). It highlights key arguments in the author's nearly two decades of research and two books on the Study to suggest how much we are invested in the myths about what happened, and why this limits the meanings we might make now of what occurred.

Learning Areas:
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1.Differentiate myth from historical fact in the U.S. Public Health Service Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PhD in history
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.