Half a century after it was exposed, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study remains one of the darker chapters in American medical history, and led to several reforms in medical ethics, particularly in regard to informed consent for human subjects. Beginning in 1932, the US Public Health Service conducted a study to determine the course that syphilis would take if left untreated. Tragically, the subjects of the study were all impoverished African-American sharecroppers, none of whom were told what the study was for and whether they had syphilis or not. Worse still, the engineers of the study refused to allow the subjects to undergo treatment for the disease, even after penicillin was proven to be an effective remedy; not only did more than a hundred men die as a result of this refusal, but several of the men also passed the disease on to their wives, and some of their children were later born with congenital syphilis as well. Join Tom and Jenny on this grim journey through medical malfeasance on a sickly and somber episode 282.
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