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It has been 45 years since the nation learned that more than 600 African-American men from rural Alabama were experimented on without their consent, and left untreated in a notorious federally funded syphilis study.

The participants in the “U.S. Public Health Study of Untreated Syphilis in Negro Males in Macon County, Ala.,” have all since died. Ernest Hendon, who passed away in January 2004, was the last survivor. But this week, in the town where these husbands, fathers, brothers, and great-great grandfathers were recruited, they lived again through a great crowd of witnesses who gathered to tell stories.

The lives and fate of these men are now well-known through countless books and movies. And every first-year medical student learns about the syphilis study conducted from 1932 to 1972, in which a group of black men, some with syphilis, were given a placebo treatment and monitored while their health declined.

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NBC News

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