40 Years After Tuskegee Experiment, Syphilis Rates Rising

Attorney Fred Gray discusses the Tuskegee Syphilis Case, and how those involved with the experiment were reluctant to apologize following the case becoming public.
  • Tuskegee syphilis case a 40-year experiment (1932-1972) that tested late-stage syphilis on 399 black men who were unaware of the disease’s consequences
  • The men were “deliberately left to degenerate” (see Tuskeegee University report) by doctors who had “no intention of curing them”
  • Fred Gray represented class action lawsuit for men affected by experiment
  • Syphilis an STD acquired by direct sexual contact, caused by the bacteria treponema pallidum
  • Three stages of syphilis, each with increasing severity: primary, secondary and tertiary
  • Symptoms range from sores and swollen lymph nodes (primary) to heart, brain and nervous systems problems (tertiary)
  • Penicillin the primary treatment for syphilis
  • Primarily affects sexually active adults aged 20 to 29
  • 36,000 cases of syphilis in 2006; 64% of these among men who had sex with other men (via CDC)
  • Syphilis on the rise in the early 2000s
  • CDC developed plan to eliminate increasing syphilis risks by 2010
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