Qualitative research among young people and other community members in rural Mali elicited knowledge and attitudes with regard to HIV/AIDS. Findings indicated that rumours concerning methods of infection are likely to increase the stigmatization of those with the disease. The most frequently stated mode of transmission involved urinating in a place where someone with AIDS had already urinated. Shared clothes, food and water were seen as sources of infection. Both children and teachers recommended that people with AIDS be isolated. Even talking to them would lead to a risk of infection. Discriminatory views were likely to have been reinforced by parents and community elders who possessed the same misinformation. The notion that AIDS results from sexual encounters between young women and dogs belonging to white people in Côte d'Ivoire was also widespread. These discourses may reflect perceived xenophobia and risk to migrants associated with current tensions between the two countries, together with misgivings about Western sexual liberalism. A holistic educational programme is proposed to address not simply HIV/AIDS, but the social context in which infection occurs, with view to combating stigma and discrimination associated with not just HIV but also with migration in this setting.