While in his early speeches on AIDS Koop focused on educating the American people about the nature of AIDS and on ways to protect themselves from infection--the most immediate goal of any public health official--in later speeches he increasingly explored the social, economic, and legal ramifications of the disease. The effect of AIDS on health insurance, employment, education, and housing became more pronounced and more troubling as growing scientific understanding of the disease and the development of the first anti-retroviral drugs in the late 1980s helped AIDS carriers live longer. Koop pleaded with Americans not to discriminate against AIDS patients out of fear of the disease, and instead appealed to their sense of fairness and empathy in helping carriers to adjust to life with AIDS.
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