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"A Doctor's Good Advice" [Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post]

Washington Post
Publication Date
  • Education
  • Medicine


A26 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24,1986 . THE WASHINGTON POST AN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER A Doctor-5 Good Advice I T ISN’T OFTEN that Planned Parenthood and the Reagan administration see eye to eye, but a national crisis has brought them togeth- er on at least one subject: AIDS. A report issued earlier this week by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop drew praise from the family-planning group specifically because it urges sex education in schools at the earliest possible grade. But that recommendation is not the only noteworthy item in Dr. Koop’s frank and sensible report, Wednesday’s statement was prepared at the request of Presidat Reagan and is styled “a report to the American people on AIDS.” No reader could come away complacent about the statistics presented on the spread and deadliness of the disease, but the report contains more than facts. It exhorts Americans to put aside preju- dices they may have against homosexuals and intravenous drug users, to help the victims of this epidemic and to stop talking nonsense about quarantines, universal blood tests and tattoos for those who test positive. Perhaps most gratifying to those who view the surgeon general as a conservative, he approaches this sensitive subject without making value judgments, only medical ones. “It is time,” he says, “to put self-defeating attitudes aside and recognize that we are fighting a’disease-not people.” On the issue of sex education, Dr. Koop is forthright. “There is now no doubt that we need sex education in schools and that it include information on sexual practices that may put our children at risk for AIDS.” This risk applies primarily to homosexuals and intravenous drug users, and the report contains specific instruc- tions on how people in these categories can reduce their exposure. But, as the most recent data on the spread of AIDS confirm, it is not limited to these groups, and the disease is spread- ing, through sexual contact, to the general popu- lation. Abstinence

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