This introductory chapter argues that HIV/AIDS is not simply a biomedical phenomenon but a complex biosocial occurrence. Much as other incoming trends, beliefs, and practices are reshaped within different cultures, diseases are also changed when they appear in different cultures. As such, it is important to analyze how AIDS is understood, accounted for, acted upon, and experienced in localized contexts. Since the AIDS epidemic is in relatively early stages in Melanesia, most of the accounts in this book are of cultural understandings built on incoming information of various kinds, from official to rumor, rather than on direct experience. Although the presence of AIDS has been felt in the Pacific since 1982, it is only now, when the epidemics there are starting to get out of control, that the issue is being taken seriously and research has begun to increase.
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