Barbara Coombs Lee and Paul Smith: Race and culture still matter 50 years after Tuskegee syphilis study

Fifty years ago, an Associated Press reporter uncovered the infamous “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.” Tragically, since the physicians deliberately withheld treatment, 28 of the 600 study patients died, 100 died from syphilis complications, 40 of their wives were infected and 19 children were born with congenital syphilis. This disgraceful 40-year study from 1932-1972 left communities of color with a lasting distrust of the institution of medicine, most especially medicine in collaboration with the government.

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