Amidst the polemics of what Watney (1987) has called ‘AIDS commentary’, there is general agreement about three issues: first, that ‘AIDS is primarily a social phenomenon with urgent and consuming medical issues attached’ (Miller, 1988, p. 130); second, that, short of a medical breakthrough, the most effective response to HIV infection is via cultural and behavioural change; and third, that such change will depend upon communication processes that are complicated and little understood.