I think the men that participated in the Tuskegee syphilis study would have had mixed reactions if they had been given full disclosure about the research methods being used prior to the start of the study. The purpose of the research in 1929 was to identify if there was a difference in how syphilis effected Caucasians and African Americans. The African Americans were not treated for syphilis then they were observed, studied and compared to a control group that did not have syphilis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, December 14, 2015). I think there would have been men willing to participate in the study, if they thought they would be helping others in the future, depending on their personal life situation. Especially if they thought they were helping future African Americans perhaps beat the illness. Certainly, many men would not have wanted to participate. Incentives may have been offered to entice some of them to participate. Since ethics were not being considered the incentives could have been another possibility. Some men may have been willing to go untreated for as long as they could tolerate the symptoms if they thought at a later time they could receive treatment.
Before antibiotics, Salvarsan (an arsenic-based preparation) was used to treat syphilis and then they used mercury another potentially toxic chemical to treat syphilis. Not only have the treatments for syphilis changed syphilis rates have waxed and waned as the epidemiologic triangle components have changed over time (Friis, & Sellers, 2014).
When the truth was revealed about the Tuskegee study many changes were made in the area of ethics for the regulation of biomedical studies. For years after the revelation many people thought minorities, especially blacks were hesitant to join biomedical studies because of the Tuskegee legacy. A couple of studies were completed to validate or refute this idea. It was identified that blacks are not more reluctant to participate in studies than Caucasians because of awareness of the Tuskegee study (Katz, Green, Kressin, James, Wang, Claudio, & Russell, 2009).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (December 14, 2015). U.S. public health service syphilis study at Tuskegee. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/index.html
Friis, R. H., Sellers, T. A. (2014). Epidemiology for Public Health Practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Katz, R. V., Green, B. L., Kressin, N. R., James, S. A., Wang, M. Q., Claudio, C., & Russell, S. L. (2009). Exploring the "legacy" of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: a follow-up study from the Tuskegee Legacy Project. Journal of the National Medical Association, 101(2), 179- 83.