This study’s central argument is that "transactional sex" is a crucial, and little understood, factor fueling the AIDS pandemic in South Africa. Transactional sex differs from prostitution in a number of important respects: gifts are irregular and take many forms and participants are constructed as "girlfriends" and "boyfriends" and not "prostitutes" and "clients." The study looks particularly at the way that material inequalities produced through rural industrialization articulate with masculine discourses, and women's own limited options for accumulation, to lead to multiple concurrent sexual relations attached to gifts. To sharpen its focus - and try to disentangle the socio-spatial processes through which transactional sex operates - the study compares different forms of transactional sex in Sundumbili Township and Isithebe Informal Settlement, two settlements only a few kilometers away. The project will demonstrate the need for a fundamental shift in the way we conceptualize the materiality of heterosexual sex in Africa so that adequate theoretical and methodological weight is given to transactional sex.