Descendants of syphilis study subjects emerging from shadows

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (AP) — One of the most infamous episodes in U.S. medical history is still affecting descendants of the men who were involved.

The federal government purposely withheld treatment from hundreds of black men infected with syphilis in rural Alabama for 40 years ending in 1972. The project came to be known as the “Tuskegee Syphilis Study.”

But relatives of the test subjects are still struggling with the stigma, and they’re sharing their stories to increase understanding. Descendants of the men recently held what they described as their first public event in Tuskegee, a candle-lighting ceremony honoring the men.

A federal lawsuit filed by the men remains active. Court officials say thousands of people have received payments through the $9 million settlement, and a judge is considering what to do with leftover money.

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