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The United States of America has many institutions that lead the way in medical research, but unfortunately, advances in medicine have come at the expense of Black Americans and feeble citizens of America. In 1932, U.S. Public Health Service enrolled 600 impoverished, Black American sharecroppers from Macon County, Alabama in a study of the ravages of untreated syphilis. This clinical study was funded by the United States government and maintained for 40 years ( between 1932 and 1972) in Tuskegee, Alabama to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. Public Health Service and the Center for Disease Control. The study continued under numerous US Public Health Service supervisors during the 40-year period even after it had been demonstrated that penicillin cured syphilis. US Public Health Service paid local doctors not to treat black men enrolled in the Syphilis Experiment. It took public outcry to initiate the closure of the study after reading about the “experiment” in the New York Times. The Syphlis Experiment at Tuskegee terminated on November 16, 1972.
Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman who went to Johns Hopskins University Medical Center for gynecologic treatment. Tissue was taken from Ms. Lacks without her consent, was grown in the laboratory and now serves as the control for cell culture research systems around the world. Henrietta Lacks died in 1951 from cervical cancer, a very poor woman, and was buried in a grave without a tombstone. Johns Hopkins Medical Center has made billions of dollars from the propagation and sale of the human tissue cell line, "HeLa cells" grown from Henrietta Lacks. In 1970 Henrietta Lacks died and was buried in an unmarked grave and has never been recognized for her contribution to the advancement of science worldwide.
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