Lingering Mistrust From Tuskegee Syphilis Study Connected to COVID-19 Vaccine Reluctance

A new study led by Xiaolong Hou, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, has examined the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines among Black and White communities across the United States in an effort to further analyze health disparities between the two populations. The pandemic disproportionately impacted the African American community, who experienced more exposure, illness, and death from the virus than other groups.

Hou and his co-authors from Texas A&M University and AirBnB used data from the United States Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 tracker to compare the change in vaccine rates among Black Americans across the country. The results found that Black people living within 750 miles of Tuskegee, Alabama, were slower to receive the COVID-19 vaccine than their White neighbors, as well as Black Americans in other areas of the country.

The authors suggest this phenomenon is due to the lingering mistrust of public health services among African Americans as a result of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study that started in the 1930s. The study involved a sample of 600 Black men with and without syphilis whose informed consent to participate in the study was never collected. Some of the men were treated with a placebo so researchers could track the progression of the disease. The study continued until the early 1970s. During this time, penicillin was becoming widely available as a treatment for the disease.

The authors stress that policymakers and public health leaders need to take historical context into consideration when making efforts to minimize health disparities in the United States. The research team suggests developing individualized community-based interventions that are tailored specifically to the needs of the Black community.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Tuajuanda Jordan to Retire From the Presidency of St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Dr. Jordan has led St. Mary's College of Maryland for the past 10 years. She has previously held faculty and leadership positions with Xavier University of Louisiana, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Lewis & Clark College.

The White House Releases Report on “The Economics of HBCUs”

The report found that although HBCUs account for less than 3 percent of all higher education institutions in the United States, they have 8 percent of all Black undergraduate student enrollments and produce 13 percent of all bachelor's degrees earned by Black students.

Ronald S. Rochon Named President of California State University, Fullerton

Dr. Rochon has been serving as president of the University of Southern Indiana, where he has worked for the past 14 years. Prior to his promotion to president in 2018, he served as the university's provost for eight years.

Survey Finds Over a Third of Black College Students Have Experienced Bias on Campus

A new survey from educational consulting firm EAB, has found 34 percent of Black college freshman have experienced racial bias on campus. Additionally, 36 percent of all participants stated they had witness some form of racial discrimination during their first year of college.

Featured Jobs