Mr. Chairman, I am C. Everett Koop, a medical doctor and Surgeon
General of the U.S. Public Health Service. I appear before this Committee to discuss the use of condoms in reducing the spread of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
Scientific evidence indicates that abstinence is the only
completely safe way to avoid acquiring AIDS sexually. Except for
mutually faithful monogamous relationships with uninfected
partners, the use of a condom is the best method of reducing or
preventing HIV infection known at this time for those who for one
reason or another will not practice abstinence or monogamy.
— From Koop’s testimony before Congress on February 10, 1987. He was, perhaps, the only direct Reagan political appointee who looked at an increasing horror and, whatever his private thoughts, neither flinched nor kept silent. Would that more were so. His concerted attacks on tobacco and smoking were no less direct, his refusal to slant or politicize the results of a study on abortion — again, very much setting his own clear private thoughts and beliefs aside — remarkable. No plaster saint, no person is, but few rose as high as he to the occasion. He passed today at 96.