Remembering C. Everett Koop

CEverettKoopFormer U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, a pediatric surgeon turned public health advocate, died Monday at the age of 96.

Koop was best known for his work around HIV/AIDS. Koop became surgeon general the year the AIDS pandemic began and played a fundamental role in educating Americans about the disease. In 1988, he wrote a brochure about the disease that was sent to 107 million households in the United States. The report discussed the way AIDS spread, the ways it did not spread, and how people could protect themselves. The report advocated condom use for the sexually active and sex education for schoolchildren. When Koop left his post as surgeon general in 1989, AIDS was a top research and educational priority and access to abortion remained largely intact.

“When I was getting my MPH, I participated in a student review of a PSA on using condoms to prevent HIV developed by Dr. Koop,” remembers Healthy Teen Network President/CEO Pat Paluzzi. “I have never forgotten that PSA for its humorous approach and the hysterical moment when Dr. Koop appeared in the bedroom of a couple about to have sex to remind us all when we sleep with one person, we sleep with all of their partners. He was my hero from that moment on. The field could use more of what he brought to the conversation-promoting good science even if it goes against our personal beliefs and using humor to get results. I miss him already.”

Prior to his tenure as surgeon general, Koop was surgeon-in-chief for more than 30 years at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

What do you think will be Dr. Koop’s most lasting legacy? 

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