This interview originally appeared in the November 22, 1985, issue of the magazine.
U. S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop is the chief public health official in America. In an exclusive interview with Christianity Today, Koop went on record for the first time about Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) a disease he calls "a ticking time bomb." An abridged version of that interview follows:
Are the public's fears about AIDS warranted?
Yes. The public health threat is considerable. Up to now, the number of AIDS cases has been doubling about every year, and 100 percent of those who have had a diagnosis of AIDS for more than three years are dead. It is a disease we can neither cure nor prevent at the present time.
AIDS can be maintained at its approximate level today if people maintain mutually faithful, monogamous sexual relationships. The difficulty is that with the virus having leapt into the heterosexual community, you never know whether a heterosexual partner might be affected. There are reports of a very high incidence of positive virus tests among prostitutes—another source of contamination within communities.
How contagious is the AIDS virus?
AIDS is an infectious disease, but it is not highly contagious. It's very hard to get AIDS, and the best evidence of this is the hundreds of health workers who have worked with AIDS patients. None has ever been proven to contract AIDS except by one of two methods: sexual contact or a needle prick that transmitted the virus.
Should children who have contracted AIDS through blood transfusions attend public schools?
On the basis of everything we know, the likelihood of contagion between an AIDS child and a normal child is infinitesimally ...1
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