was on this day that the Washington Evening Star ran with this headline: "Syphilis
Patients Died Untreated". The reporter who broke the news was Jean Heller.
wrote: "For 40 years, the U.S. Public Health Service has conducted a study
in which human guinea pigs, not given proper treatment, have died of syphilis
and its side effects."
400 black men from Macon County, Alabama, were never told that they had syphilis
and whilst no proven cure was available when the experiment started in 1932, when
a penicillin cure was discovered in 1947 it was not given to the men. Dozens of
them died. The aim of the experiment was to see what the effects were of syphilis
on the untreated human body, including how it spread.
health workers eventually leaked details of the experiment to the media.
the ensuing class action (brought by the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People (NAACP) in 1973) $9 million was divided up amongst the surviving
men and their infected families.
wasn't until 1997 that the USA's president of the day, Bill Clinton, formally
apologized for this "shameful" experiment.