Bad Blood by James H. Jones “Bad Blood” is an excellently written account of one of the most horrendous and despicable acts perpetrated by the United States Government of nearly 40 years, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. James H. Jones carefully researched this subject and provided factual information which could be backed up by mounds of evidence.
He provides a detailed writing that illuminates the ignorance, racism and outright inhumanity that was deep-rooted throughout the United States, the medical arena, and society in general prior to these horrific experiments, and acknowledges the data provided by individuals who participated in the experiments. From 1939 to 1972 the U. S. government sponsored an experiment on 399 African-American men in an effort to determine if the long-term affects of syphilis were different for black people than it was for white people.
These men were promised incentives, such as free meals, transportation to and from the medical trial and, the most appealing of all, free burial plots, to join. During the “trials” the medical professionals intentionally denied these men treatment, never informed them of syphilis’ destructiveness to their health, and ignored the fact that these men were infecting their respective wives and sexual partners with the disease. As the experiments continued these doctors calculatedly deceived the men, informing them that they were suffering from what was categorized as “bad blood”.
As the disease took over the minds and bodies of these unsuspecting men, no effort was made by the doctors of the Public Health Service to either inform them regarding the disease or provide them with treatment in an effort to restrain the devastating effects. I think I can safely say that the author of this book, James H. Jones, believed that these experiments were inhumane and violated every right of many Americans. It is unbelievable to imagine what our government, whom is suppose to protect us from terrorists, can be allowed to perform such horrendous experiments undetected for so long.
It is no wonder that the consensus among African-Americans towards them is fear and mistrust! The “study” of the natural history of syphilis in black men is important to understand. Because it involved U. S. federal funds and U. S. federal researchers, it was a key demonstration that serious ethical problems in research were a mainstream event rather than a fringe problem. Awareness of this project fueled concern to provide regulatory oversight and, finally, led to the development of federal regulations. Jones’ revelations were key this.
I think that everyone who is involved in human subjects’ research should read this book to draw insight into what can unknowingly happen when “high society” (in this case the U. S. government) has control. I would strongly recommend that anyone considering participating ask many, many questions and never allow anyone to leave you in the dark about what is happening to you and your body. Overall, this is an excellent book that makes it abundantly clear why Tuskegee is so important to our thinking about research ethics, and helps the reader understand why certain racial and ethnic groups have a distrust of medical research.