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December 1964

The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis: The 30th Year of Observation

Author Affiliations


From the Venereal Disease Research Laboratory, Communicable Disease Center, Public Health Service, Department of Health, Education and Welfare.; Surgeon, USPHS(R) (Dr. Rockwell), and Chief (Dr. Yobs), Medical Research, Venereal Disease Research Laboratory; Director, Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (Dr. Moore).

Arch Intern Med. 1964;114(6):792-798. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.03860120104011

The year 1963 marks the 30th year of the long-term evaluation of the effect of untreated syphilis in the male Negro conducted by the Venereal Disease Branch, Communicable Disease Center, United States Public Health Service. This paper summarizes the information obtained in this study—well known as the "Tuskegee Study"—from earlier publications,1-11 reviews the status of the original study group, and reports the clinical and laboratory findings on those remaining participants who were examined in the 1963 evaluation.

In the late 1920's and early 1930's, surveys 7,12 in rural areas of the South revealed a high incidence of syphilis among the Negro population, and it was determined that many of those infected remained untreated. Because of the lack of knowledge of the pathogenesis of syphilis, a long-term study of untreated syphilis was desirable in establishing a more knowledgeable syphilis control program.

A prospective study was begun late in 1932 in