In 1966, a white Public Health Service venereal disease investigator, Peter Buxtun, voiced his concerns with the moral and ethical implications at play with the study. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) pushed back, stating the study needed to continue and had support from Black medical associations. Other Public Health Service employees tried to bring light to the study’s terrible aims, but it appeared the medical community at large supported the work at Tuskegee.
After being blocked by his peers in the medical community, Buxtun was finally able to get someone to run the story. The Washington Star published his account that the PHS and CDC willfully kept these men sick and suffering the side effects of a deadly disease. Sen. Edward Kennedy called a series of Congressional hearings where Buxtun and other opponents testified, and the program was closed that year. The NAACP filed a class action lawsuit that was settled for $9 million, and free treatment was promised for the surviving Tuskegee patients and their families.
In 1974, Congress passed the National Research Act, which helped develop proper guidelines for human subject research in light of what happened at Tuskegee.
On May 16, 1997, then-President Bill Clinton offered a formal apology to the study participants and rightfully called the program racist.