Tuskegee’s legacy

In the infamous Tuskegee study, 399 African-American men with syphilis were passively monitored by medical researchers for 40 years, despite the availability of effective treatment for most of that time.

Disclosure of the study in 1972 correlates with an increase in medical mistrust and mortality among African-American men, according to a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research by Stanford assistant professor of medicine Marcella Alsan, MD, PhD, and University of Tennessee economist Marianne Wanamaker, PhD.

Life expectancy at age 45 for black men fell by 1.4 years after the study was revealed, accounting for 35 percent of the disparity between black and white men in 1980.

Alsan has now launched a pilot project to evaluate the willingness of black men to seek preventive medical screenings.