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The Deplorable Treatment Of African Americans In Medical Research

1824 words - 7 pages

Medical research in the United States has a disgraceful history of exploitative studies in which African Americans were targets of abuse in the name of medical and scientific progress. African Americans have been used as the testing ground for drugs, treatments, and procedures since the time of slavery. The tolerance of the human frame and the endurance of the soul have been pushed to the limit in many of these experiments. From the physical demands on plantation work and the torturous treatment of slavery to the mental anguish inflicted on a slave’s soul by their masters, blacks have received deplorable treatment sanctioned by a white society. The end of slavery and the ushering in of the twenty first century did not end the torturous treatment and mental abuse. African Americans have been used for medical experimentation without consent for decades. Ironically they are treated as inferior and often given fewer rights than others, but amazingly their cells and bodies are treated as equals in laboratories for medical research, the results of which can save, extend and enhance the lives of others. Although color lines that are drawn in many aspects of life and inequitable treatment doled out based on the depth of the color of one’s skin, actually astounding results from medical experimentation on African Americans has produced drugs, cures and treatments for even those who do not value people of color, leaving the question of ethics and equity hanging in the balance.
What motivated some studies on blacks in particular during the early to mid-1900 was the idea that diseases are different within different races (Geiger). Paradoxically many of the studies that were done were not for this purpose but for the advancement of medicine to cure the ills of white people. Often the fact was that they as individuals were not valued and were easily exploited due to perceived notions of lack of intelligence and their indigent status. Additionally human medical research studies often targeted those who came to public teaching institutions desperately seeking free medical treatment and who generally looked up to doctors and experimenters as experts in the field who were there to help them. While this motivation may seem logical, it is often faulty as many human medical research studies throughout history demonstrate that the motivation of medical researches is often not the care of those currently suffering from a particular condition but the future returns on the cures or medical treatments that may be discovered during the study (McKie). As with many such unethical studies, the participants often do not give consent and are not informed of known dangers to the procedure, medications or lack of treatment. The use of individuals who are poor, uneducated, and lack medical insurance in combination with prestigious university research institutions and the white coated, well-educated researchers motivated by discoveries of cures on the scientific frontier results in...

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