Faced with the problems of HIV/AIDS, people have to find ways to communicate around them. The aim of this paper is to mirror changes over time in the Kagera people's social cognition regarding HIV/AIDS, using their own language as a tracer of this process. Focus group discussions and personal and group interviews conducted during 1992 to 1995 in urban Bukoba, Kagera, constitute the basis for an analysis of metaphorical expressions in use since 1985. Pronounced uncertainty is later transformed into a deeper understanding of the pandemic and an increased disposition to cope with the situation. Knowledge about the socio-linguistic expressions mapped out in this article can be of help when developing guidelines on how to communicate about interventions.