Introduction: AIDS on the path from exceptionalism to normality As several articles in this volume attest, the crisis caused by the AIDS epidemic in Germany has abated. An impending catastrophe has turned into a problem that can be managed by public health and medical care. For this reason there is talk of the ‘end of exceptionalism’ (Bayer, 1991) and of ‘normalisation’ (Schaeffer et al., 1992). Integration into evolved routines, regulations and institutions, that is into the ‘normally poor course of health policy’ (Rosenbrock, 1986) is, of course, not a seamless process or one free of contradictions. That is due, above all, to the fact that the outbreak of AIDS attracted not only special attention in Germany but also led to a high degree of readiness to try out innovative processes as well as to disburse large amounts of money. AIDS became the exception to many rules in health policy, prevention and patient care. People saw in these innovations not only an appropriate response to the challenge posed by HIV to health and health policy but also the opportunity for the long overdue testing of new forms of social management for other health risks (Rosenbrock, 1993).