This article views the organization of the fight against HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia as the complex result of the interplay between government strategies and the efforts of affected people themselves to face their condition by seeking care and support. Focusing on the formation of the associations of people living with HIV/AIDS in Addis Ababa and Gondar, I show that the fight against the disease involves both a personal battle and the collective mobilization of HIV-positive people to rally around their afflictions as a mode of self-empowerment, public education, and the socialization of risks. In particular, I analyze the continuities and discontinuities in terms of mutual help association members, the self-confession of HIV/AIDS, and traditional forms of solidarity and other forms of public expression with regard to sexually transmittable diseases, like syphilis, that are attested to in historical sources.

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