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Sat Aug 19, 2017, 10:14 PM

The Secret Story of How a Revered Future Surgeon General Inspired the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

The discovery of Thomas Parran’s papers confirms that he was much more involved in Tuskegee than anyone ever knew. And Tuskegee was the tip of a very ugle iceberg.

08.19.17 9:55 PM ET

The lost story of how a future surgeon general and revered medical figure inspired the most notorious and perhaps also the most unethical medical study in American history — one in which African Americans were infected with syphilis and left untreated so scientists could study the disease’s progression— has now been found.

It was while Gregory J. Dober was researching the history of using institutionalized children as subjects for human experimentation for our book, Against Their Will, that he came across the papers of Dr. Thomas Parran Jr. archived at the University of Pittsburgh. A significant stash of important documents totaling over 75 linear feet, they not only help us understand medical research during the last century and Parran’s zeal for conquering various social diseases, but also how U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) physicians could have annually examined hundreds of impoverished, syphilitic Alabama sharecroppers but never actually treat them.

It's important that this story be told—on this 85th anniversary of the start of the experiments, the 45th anniversary of their exposure by Jean Heller of the Associated Press, and 20th anniversary of President Clinton apologizing to the survivors—not only to correct the historical record, but also because it is far from the only example of scientists initiating and carrying out such troubling research on unknowing and defenseless citizens here.  

A former U.S. Surgeon General, founder of Pitt’s Public Health Department, and iconic figure in the fight against venereal disease when many refused to even mention the word syphilis, Dr. Parran had enjoyed a stellar image as a thoughtful policy advocate and progressive administrator, though it had already begun to take some hits due to his association with two of the most ethically challenged experiments in medical history.


Dr. Thomas Parran Jr.

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Reply The Secret Story of How a Revered Future Surgeon General Inspired the Tuskegee Syphilis Study (Original post)
Judi Lynn Aug 2017 OP
delisen Aug 2017 #1
Judi Lynn Aug 2017 #2
Judi Lynn Aug 2017 #3
Stuart G Aug 2017 #4

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Aug 20, 2017, 05:37 AM

1. I don't know of any evidence the men were infected with syphilis by the

U S Public Health Service or Tuskegee. They were deliberately not told of their disease and not treated, even after penicillin was discovered.

The disease was left to run its course in these men, even though treatments were available when the study began, and better treatment became available during the course of the study.

The first sentence in this article seems to state they were actually infected by the designers and managers of the study.

The withholding of treatment is horrific in itself.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Aug 20, 2017, 04:30 PM

2. Clinton Apologizes To Tuskegee Experiment Victims

Clinton Apologizes To Tuskegee Experiment Victims

President says he's sorry the federal government sponsored a study 'so clearly racist'

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 16) -- President Bill Clinton offered an emotional apology today for the U.S. government's notorious Tuskegee syphilis study, calling it shameful and racist. (320K wav sound)

In a ceremony at the White House's East Room, Clinton said the government lied to and betrayed hundreds of African-American men who thought they were getting free medical care.

Instead, their syphilis went untreated for decades so medical researchers could study how the disease progressed. Even when it was known that penicillin could cure the disease, the men in the study didn't get it.

"What was done cannot be undone, but we can end the silence," Clinton said. "We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye, and finally say, on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful and I am sorry." (384K wav sound)


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Aug 20, 2017, 08:46 PM

3. Worse Than Tuskegee

FEB. 26 2017 12:15 PM
Worse Than Tuskegee
Seventy years ago, American researchers infected Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea, then left without treating them. Their families are still waiting for help.

By Sushma Subramanian

Frederico Ramos was 22 when he left his home in San Agustín Acasaguastlán, Guatemala, in 1948 to serve in the country’s military. He didn’t want to go, but service was all but mandatory. Buses often came to his town to take young men away. Resisting once would just mean being picked up the next time. So he gritted his teeth and made the trip to Guatemala City, about two hours southwest. He worked for 30 months in the Guatemalan air force. He spent long days on guard duty watching over planes at the base.

Once his service was complete, Ramos moved to La Escalera, a tiny village of 400 people near his hometown where he could plant beans and corn and start his own family. Soon after settling down, he began suffering from what he refers to as “bad urine”—he felt extreme strain when he relieved himself. Over the years it got much, much worse and extended beyond his genitals to his appendix and other organs. He consulted doctors who prescribed medicines that didn’t work. “They were just taking our money,” he said. Instead, he treated himself with tea made from the fruit of guapinol trees (known for its analgesic properties). Mostly, he learned to live with the pain.

As his eight children grew up, they too started to have similar health problems. And later on, so did their children. His son Benjamin, for instance, also has intense pain when he needs to urinate. It stings so badly he has to sit down and breathe to gather the strength to walk home from the fields. Benjamin’s son Roheli has health problems that seemed related but were different: He grew up with an ache in his joints, particularly his knees. A fan of Real Madrid, he tried to play soccer with other local boys but often ended up falling spontaneously and crying. One of Benjamin’s nieces is barren. Benjamin’s grandsons Eduardo and Christian have such crippling leg pain that they can hardly focus on their schoolwork.

For years, the family didn’t know what they were suffering from. A friend of theirs, who was studying at a university in the city, eventually looked up their symptoms and said it seemed like gonorrhea. A textbook explained one sign of the disease is a burning feeling during urination. In severe cases, gonorrhea is known to damage reproductive organs. An infected woman could also pass it on to her children, which could result in joint infections, blindness, or a life-threatening blood infection. The diagnosis made sense, but being as poor and remote as they were, the family couldn’t find a treatment.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Aug 20, 2017, 09:31 PM

4. K and R..

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