Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment


Syphilis is seen as a major health problem, major health initiatives are started.


Aggressive treatment with Mercury and Bismuth begins, treatment took months and could have been fatal.


The Rosenwald Fund, a private philanthropic foundation, appropriates $50,000 to finance syphilis control demonstrations by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) with African Americans.

November 1929

The Public Health Service and the Tuskegee Institute, began a study to record the history of syphilis to find treatment for blacks. It involved 600 black men and 399 men with syphilis.


The PHS returns to Tuskegee, where it uncovered an infection rate of 35% among those tested, to study the effects of untreated syphilis in a select group of African American males.

October 1932

Papers suggesting health effects of untreated syphilis were published; study was criticized because it was unknown if men were being treated.


The PHS starts treating patients who have syphilis with penicillin in several medical centers in the United States.


CDC reaffirms need for study and gains local medical societies' support. (AMA and NMA chapters officially support continuation of study).


News article breaks about the Tuskegee study; study ends.

July 1972

Congress holds hearings and a class-action lawsuit is filed on behalf of the people participated in the study.

February 1973