The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Americans fear being used as guinea pigs

Washington, Nov. 25 (Reuters): Up to 80 per cent of US Blacks and 52 per cent of Whites believe that they or “people like them” could be used as guinea pigs for medical research without their consent, a survey published today found.

The survey, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggested that most Blacks do not trust their doctors, and also suggested that it will be hard to get African-Americans to take part in medical trials.

“As a society, we want the very best medical care,” Dr Giselle Corbie-Smith, an assistant professor of social medicine and internal medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who led the study, said in a statement.

“This care is based on evidence from medical research. Yet it appears that many of us as individuals distrust the research enterprise and are unwilling to participate in it. This is a critical disconnect.”

Blacks still remember the notorious Tuskegee study in which Alabama Blacks were allowed to go untreated for syphilis between 1932 and 1972 — even though doctors knew antibiotics could cure them. The doctors wanted to study the “natural course” of the disease.

“Since the Tuskegee syphilis study, we’ve known that large numbers of African-Americans distrust the research community,” Corbie-Smith said.

“Now we know that many Whites share that same fear.”

She said the fears could hurt efforts to do important medical research.

For the study researchers interviewed 500 Blacks and 400 Whites across the country.

They found that 63 per cent of the African Americans and 38 per cent of Whites surveyed believed doctors often prescribe medication as a way of experimenting on people without their knowledge. One-quarter of Blacks and 8 per cent of Whites thought their doctors had given them treatment at some time as part of an experiment without their permission.

The US government is looking for a rare population of women for a new vaccine trial — women who have never been infected with genital herpes or its cousin, the cold sore virus.

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