Based on a five months fieldwork in a village in Malawi, this thesis takes a closer look at the social and historical context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic through a discussion of gender and power.From 1891 to 1964 Malawi, then called Nyasaland, was under the British colonial government. This period was characterized by a strong European and Christian influence, and the resistance of this from the traditional culture. This conflict created a duality between what was considered western and what was considered traditional. The British settlers viewed the Africans through a moral lense where female chastity was the highest symbol of virtue. The western view changed the gender relations in Malawi, and continues to inform assumptions about Africans and African sexuality.The first leader of the independent country, the ambigious figure of Dr. Hastings Banda, turned the country into a dictatorship which lasted until 1994. He continued the duality created during the colonial rule. At the same time the traditional authorities such as chieftainships and local courts got an official renaissance. He found traditional values, focusing on family relationships, and the power of old over young, men over women important and used it to justify his power by referring to the country’s indigenous values. In this context, HIV/AIDS was introduced to the country.I argue that the Western discourse of HIV in Malawi and Africa in general, are still influenced by colonial ideas about African and African sexuality in particular. I have tried to show how some ideas about gender and sexuality have consequences for the response to the HIV/AIDS situation in Malawi. The theoretical framework is that ideas and discourses have very real consequences (Ferguson 2003). The situation of HIV is embedded in structures of meaning (Farmer 1993), and these structures are developed over time. A historical perspective is therefore crucial.