In two previous posts, I discussed the history of the U.S. Public Health Service study at Tuskegee, 50 years after it was revealed to the nation. I also shared the perspectives of a Black epidemiologist and a Black HIV primary care physician on what the study’s legacy means now.
In this post, I share the perspectives of two Black psychiatrists and a Black colorectal surgeon on how the study at Tuskegee reverberates through Black communities today.
- Every field of medicine has its examples of racism, such as the theory of “drapetomania” in enslaved people and “protest psychosis” in civil rights leaders and protesters in the field of psychiatry.
- The distrust many Black people have of the medical system is well earned, so “we have to continue to actively work to increase diversity and representation in medicine” and “educate current medical providers, so we don’t continue to repeat the mistakes of the past and harm patients.”
- The legacy of what the Tuskegee experiment was about — withholding treatment — continues to play out in health care access issues that impact Black communities.
- While the experiment began in the 1930s, its revelation 50 years ago is not the distant past and still lives on today.