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Statement from AAD on ethical medical testing

Rosemont, Ill. (Nov. 25, 2020) – This year, many of us have been forced to face up to uncomfortable truths about the legacy of racism in our communities, in our country, and in many professions. Dermatologists must be honest with ourselves about the profound wrongs done by some of our venerated leaders of the past.

The AAD strongly supports informed consent in all medical treatment and medical research scenarios. No treatment, however effective it may turn out to be, should be developed on the backs of unwilling or unwitting subjects. However, we know that some of the landmark treatments for acne and aging skin exist because they were unethically tested on inmates, most of them Black, at Holmesburg Prison in Pennsylvania under the direction of dermatologist Albert M. Kligman, MD.

We cannot undo this injustice, but we can, and do:

  • acknowledge the injustice

  • acknowledge that disparate impacts on people of color still exist today

  • commit ourselves to advocating for equal access to care for patients of all races

  • promise to work to ensure that our specialty’s diversity better reflects that of the country at large

  • pledge to make it possible for all dermatologists to receive proper training to care for patients with skin of every color

The Academy is committed to playing a critical role in advancing the specialty and instilling trust in every community.