Remember the days of health warnings by the surgeon general? They became a part of the way we thought about and understood health risks. Americans turned to the surgeon general, someone highly regarded as the nation's doctor. It's a position that today doesn't carry much influence, but in the 80s, Dr. C. Everett Koop rose to prominence in that role and became a household name.
And in his eight years in the post, under President Ronald Reagan, Koop had done more to raise awareness about the risks of smoking and AIDS. This is what Dr. Koop said to the NAACP in New York City in 1985: "Make no mistake about it, AIDS is spreading, and AIDS is fatal." He got the federal government far more involved than ever before in both initiatives.
Koop died yesterday at 96-years-old. Helping us recount his legacy is Chris Collins, vice president of amfAR, the Foundation of AIDS Research.