February 27, 2013

Over the years, I worked with C. Everett Koop [“ ‘America’s doctor’ spoke openly on AIDS,” front page, Feb. 26] on a number of projects, including the 1986 Surgeon General’s Report on AIDS.

We wrestled over the ethical bases for that report, and Dr. Koop even asked me to write a paper on the Bible and AIDS to assist with our thinking. What we finally arrived at was informed by the Bible as well as many other sources, and it basically said, “Regardless of whom the person is or what they do, you love them.”

As surgeon general, Dr. Koop was above politics. He was a born-again Christian and conservative Republican who said to me, as closely as I can recall, “I have my own biases, but we don’t base public health policy on our biases; we base it on science. We don’t play politics with people’s lives.” Would that those words were taken to heart by more people.

When we sailed a 17th-century ship on his 72nd birthday in 1988, Dr. Koop told me that he had then already outlived all previous males in his line. Live he did, much longer and wonderfully so, for all humanity.

Peter I. Hartsock, Laytonsville

The writer is a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service.