The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa has been fuelled in part by the widespread practice of transactional sexual relationships between younger women and older men. Patterns of sexual relationships among young women engaged in concurrent partnerships and commercial sex work in Nigeria are examined to identify partnership types, their meanings and transitions, and construction of HIV risk within different partnerships. Mixed methods were used to collect data from a mixed sample of participants in their natural environments, including university students, street hawkers and commercial sex workers. The social, cultural and behavioral implications of the results are discussed within a finding of the ambivalence young women experience between the constraining, yet unifying influence of culture and the realignment of social identities as a result of Western consumerism. The rationale for existing operating constructs and HIV/AIDS policies are explored, as the author argues that in maintaining current practices health practitioners and policymakers may have inadvertently perpetuated the environment of secrecy surrounding HIV/AIDS and its experience as a shameful disease.