HIV is given special consideration in this section because the epidemic has generated changes in disease control, insurance, and patient privacy laws across the country. It has also had a profound effect on the functioning of public health departments. The epidemic has frightened the public, highlighted the flaws in our public health system, and exacerbated the inequities in the health insurance and indigent care systems. Many authors have stressed the special problems of AIDS and why traditional medical and public health practices are inappropriate for AIDS and HIV infection. In our view, AIDS poses no new and unique medical problems. It is unique only when the history of communicable disease control in this century is ignored.