In 1987, the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services had a bill introduced in the legislature to improve contact tracing and establish statewide public education on HIV infection, transmission, and disease control. This article traces the bill, and issues surrounding the bill, through the legislative process and focuses on an unexpected intervention by the governor through a proposed amendment to add mandatory premarital testing. Its conclusions offer advice to other states on how best to avoid political exploitation of AIDS/HIV issues.

By the summer of 1987, the AIDS issue in New Hampshire had become devoted to everything but AIDS. It revolved around presidential preferences, a governor's show of strength, and legislative grandstanding. Substantive progress in curbing the further transmission of the virus through education, testing, and behavioral changes had been stymied. How did this issue become so hotly politicized in New Hampshire? Can our sister New England states learn from our experience? Can the issue be better handled?

This article will trace a benign bill from its inception through its demise in the legislature. It will illustrate how the absence of a plan and of consensus can leave this sensitive issue open to political exploitation.



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