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Fighting a Disease or People?

On October 22, 1986, Dr. C. Everett Koop held a press conference for the release of “Surgeon General’s Report on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.” In that speech, he stated that:

“…It is time to put self-defeating attitudes aside and recognize that we are fighting a disease—not people. We must control the spread of AIDS, and at the same time offer the best we can to care for those who are sick…” (Read online Dr. Koop’s full statement.)

Dr. Koop called for controlling the spread of AIDS, while caring for those with AIDS, a way of “fighting a disease—not people.” Take a close look at the report he released to inform the public how one can prevent HIV infection, which causes AIDS.

The Surgeon General’s Report on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, October 1986

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop released this report at the request of President Reagan on the AIDS epidemic to inform the public on AIDS. Dr. Koop discusses the risks of infection, how the disease is transmitted, and how to prevent it. The report includes recommendations, such as increased use of condoms, voluntary testing by individuals, as well as providing early sex education in schools. The explicit sex information being shared with the public in this report shocked many high-ranking officials. Despite this, the report served as the federal government’s response to the deadly disease.

Find out various reactions to Dr. Koop’s report and his approach by reading a selection of digitized letters, newspaper columns, and speeches available online, “AIDS, the Surgeon General, and the Politics of Public Health.”