CDC Director Honors ‘Suffering And Sacrifice’ Of Men Experimented On Without Consent

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky posted a tweet Wednesday honoring the “suffering and sacrifice” of the hundreds of black men who were experimented on without informed consent as part of the infamous Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Public Health Service (PHS) studied 399 black men with syphilis in Macon County, Alabama, between 1932 and 1972. Researchers also studied a control group of 201 black men without the disease.

“Participants’ informed consent was not collected” and the victims were told they were being treated for “bad blood” rather than for syphilis, according to the CDC. Over 100 of the test subjects died during the experiment.

Test subjects were not offered penicillin, which by 1943 was widely available and had proven effective in treating syphilis, because researchers wanted to study the course of the disease when it was left untreated, according to the CDC. (RELATED: ‘Human Trials On Black People’: Sunny Hostin Invokes Tuskegee Experiments, Says Black Community Shouldn’t Trust Trump On Vaccine) 

Walensky’s tweet, which honored the experiment’s victims without directly mentioning the lack of informed consent, sparked backlash on social media.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the Tuskegee syphilis study,” Walensky tweeted. “Tomorrow, I will be joined by colleagues & #PublicHealth leaders as we honor the 623 African American men, their suffering & sacrifice, and our commitment to ethical research and practice.”

Rapid Response Director for Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, Christina Pushaw said “whoever wrote and approved this tweet is probably higher level than an intern” and called the tweet “disgusting.”

“This is why people abhor ‘public health’ as an institution,” she added.

Grabien founder Tom Elliot tweeted that the “CDC is obviously a graver threat to Americans’ health than any disease.”

“You can’t honor their sacrifice because they did not consent to what was done to them, did not offer their health and bodies to anyone,” advocate and lawyer Maud Maron wrote on Twitter. “They were lied to. And harmed.”

Walensky’s tweet comes just months after outlets reported that the Biden administration spent more than $25,000 and authorized the use of more than $30,000 on media training for Walensky.