The following is a statement from National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director Paul Kawata:
Washington, DC – “The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) is incredibly saddened by the passing of Dr. C. Everett Koop. As surgeon general from 1982 through 1989, Dr. Koop ascended to office just as the AIDS epidemic began to take hold in America. At a time when many conservatives, especially within the Reagan administration, were hesitant to address the growing crisis, Dr. Koop understood the grave threat that the epidemic posed to public health. Bucking many in his own party, Dr. Koop bravely stepped forward to educate the public about the disease and dispel the dangerous myths that surrounded it.
“As Dr. Koop began work on his historic report “Understanding AIDS” – just one of two reports delivered to every household in America – myself and a group of NMAC founders met with him to discuss the increasing impact the epidemic was having on communities of color. While much of the public’s perception was that AIDS as a white, gay disease, the epidemic was spreading unchecked among minority communities, especially Black Americans. Dr. Koop was eager to understand the unique challenges facing our communities and what was meant to be a brief meeting lasted for hours. For the rest of his tenure, Dr. Koop proved a steadfast ally in fighting this persistent disease.
“A quarter of a century later, the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to devastate our nation and the world. Each day, more than 130 Americans newly acquire HIV. And while we have the tools to stop the epidemic, misinformation, stigma, and misguided policies undermine our efforts. As recently as 2010, Dr. Koop continued his crusade against AIDS, warning that it had become a ‘forgotten epidemic’ and urging renewed action. As an early leader in the fight against this terrible disease, Dr. Koop earned a place in the pantheon of our movement’s heroes. His leadership will be sorely missed, but NMAC is committed to continuing his legacy, and realizing an AIDS-free generation.”
Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622, ex. 3330, firstname.lastname@example.org