By Kim Glovas

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The former U.S. Surgeon General who inflamed conservative Americans at the very beginning of the AIDS epidemic has died. C. Everett Koop passed away in New Hampshire on Monday morning at age 96.

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C. Everett Koop pushed for sex education and the use of condoms at the advent of HIV and AIDS. Those positions enraged the religious right, but Koop said these were the only steps to counter the disease at that time. Doctor George Wohlreich of the Philadelphia College of Physicians, knew Koop when he served at Surgeon in Chief at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He says Koop was generally a conservative.

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“I probably would disagree with Dr. Koop about just about anything politically,” Wohlreich says, “but his having done that, this man is an absolute hero to me.”

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Koop served at Children’s Hospital for 35 years, and while there, performed groundbreaking surgery to separate conjoined twins, created the first neo-natal surgical intensive care unit, and created anesthetic and surgical techniques specifically for infant bodies.