Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dr. Koop's Personal Account of the AIDS Controversy, One of the Most Significant Public Health Battles in History

PR Newswire:

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The nation's war against AIDS began 30 years ago with a report that five gay men in Los Angeles were dying from Pneumocystis Carinii pneumonia, a disease so rare that a handful of cases in a single year is like an epidemic.

Now, former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop -- the official who witnessed these early deaths and charted the nation's policies on HIV/AIDS -- is making public his personal account of what took place in the early days of AIDS, naming names and providing the behind-the-scenes details of one of the most significant public health battles in the country's history.

Published in the March 31 issue of The Annals of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, Dr. Koop's paper -- The Early Days of AIDS, As I Remember Them -- is based on what the former Surgeon General described as his "last major address" on HIV/AIDS, which was presented in Washington on November 18, 2010, before 350 HIV researchers, health care providers, policymakers and advocates attending the 2010 National Summit on HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care.

With a foreword from Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Koop's personal account chronicles the very real challenges facing the public health community at the beginning of the AIDS crisis and presents a candid assessment of how a small number of cases mushroomed into the AIDS epidemic of the late 1980s.
The Annals of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research is a peer-reviewed journal published by the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research that disseminates consensus reports and proceedings, recommendations and opinions addressing current topics in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. Dr. Koop's paper is available online at
"This is a story that has begged to be told," said Veronica Miller, Ph.D., Director of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, which also hosts the biannual HIV summits. "We will only be successful in overcoming today's challenges in fighting HIV/AIDS by heeding Dr. Koop's frank message that we not forget that the epidemic is still here and is growing insidiously."

Providing lessons learned from the past, Dr. Koop's paper chronicles the developments and controversies that marked the early AIDS crisis from 1981 to 1989, which he refers to as two "phases of America and AIDS." Starting with the "the first phase of America and AIDS" -- from 1981 until the release of the Surgeon General's Report on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in October 1986 -- Dr. Koop describes a climate "marked by mystery, fear, suspicion, judgment and the unknown" when political leaders attempted to quarantine AIDS patients in San Francisco and New York City and to deny these individuals housing, employment and even access to public schools. "As a result, our first public health priority – that is, to stop further transmission of the AIDS virus – became needlessly mired in the homosexual politics of the early 1980s," Dr. Koop writes. Read more>>

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