The men received fake long term treatment, which involved giving them mercury and placebos even after penicillin was discovered as a cure.
When Caleb Humphries (one of the test subjects who left the experiment) joins the Army during World War II and is treated and cured by penicillin, he returns to tell how he was cured and tries to get help for his friend.
Many of these black men, mostly uneducated and unsophisticated, were lured to the study by promises of free meals, cheap burials, medical care (for minor ailments only) and special recognition.
In 1958, each black man who had participated in the study for 25 years was presented with a certificate signed by the Surgeon General, plus $1 for each year of service.
Miss Evers' Boys is a 1997 American made-for-television war drama film starring Alfre Woodard and Laurence Fishburne, based on the true story of the decades-long Tuskegee experiment.
It was directed by Joseph Sargent and adapted from the 1992 stage play written by David Feldshuh.
The men were also misled by an industrious, devoted black nurse known in the movie as Miss Evers.
Much of the utter cruelty of the study is forcefully depicted in the film.'' The Tuskegee experience gives light to the fact that our Government has a sunny, lofty side that we should appreciate, and a moonlit side that we should deplore,'' said Russell Adams, chairman of the department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University.
Essential to the study, which was started by the United States Public Health Service, was to withhold treatment -- even penicillin when it proved a cure in the 1940's -- to the diseased men, all in the late and most devastating stages of syphilis.
Brushing aside ethical questions, researchers hoped, according to letters and articles detailing the study, that science would learn the precise nature of how the disease ravishes the body by examining the men over time.