chapter  4
From hysteria to banality: an overview of the political response to AIDS in Germany
Günter Frankenberg and Alexander Hanebeck
ByAn overview of the political response to in Germany AIDS comes to Germany
Pages 13

AIDS comes to Germany The first press release from the German government naming AIDS as a national problem was issued in 1983.1 Up to that point it was considered an American disease and therefore not a German issue. Soon after the press release a task force from San Francisco was invited by the Federal Ministry for Health to deliver firsthand information from those with the most experience regarding AIDS and its prevention. This visit helped to convince ministry officials to adopt a liberal approach, de-emphasizing the traditional public health response to the dangers of infectious diseases; namely, the Federal Law on Communicable Diseases (Bundesseuchengesetz). A second source of outside expertise was consulted when German medical experts and representatives of the gay community were invited to a secret meeting in the ministry to discuss methods of AIDS prevention. The reliance on groups that do not usually have easy access to governmental agencies indicated that public health authorities did not know much about the subject.