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AIDS AND SOCIETY. 1991 Jan-Feb; 2(2):1, 6, 12-3.The political constraints slowing the battle against AIDS in Africa are getting AIDS on the public agenda, integrating the international community into the AIDS policy-making agenda and cultural barriers in national AIDS strategies. Policy making in most Africa is bureaucratic rather than democratic, so whether AIDS is a government priority depends largely on perception of AIDS risk by the leaders. In Zambia and Uganda, AIDS is a concern because it affects the ethnic group or family in power, while in Tanzania and Kenya, AIDS is associated with minority or "high risk" groups. The domination of AIDS agenda setting within nations in Africa by international donors and non-governmental organizations is a problem, made more severely severed by sensitivity of Africans who perceive research as a foreign effort to prove that AIDS originated there. Foreign domination is also detrimental because it prevents localities from becoming committed to AIDS interventions. Cultural barriers against effective interventions are similar to those in Western countries: AIDS is seen as a disease of shame affecting immoral people. In addition, the prevalent concept of fatalism defeats the Western insistence on intervention and strategies. Furthermore, women who are largely dependent on men cannot insist on preventive behavior, not do they have organizations in place to protect their rights. Finally, the concepts of behavioralism, and learning new behaviors for person-centered reasons, are foreign to much of Africa.