This activity engages students in learning about the AIDS epidemic and focuses them on the importance of HIV prevention, at home and abroad.
June 5, 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the AIDS virus, which has since spread around the world and become an epidemic in many countries.
Word processing software and printer
Paper and pen
PART 1: AIDS is a Current Reality
1. Begin with a group discussion. Ask students when they first heard about the AIDS epidemic? What did they learn? What emotions do they associate with learning about HIV and AIDS? Can they imagine a time before AIDS? Do they think about HIV and AID now? If so, what do they think about?
2. Explain that, the AIDS epidemic in the United States began in the late 1980's. At first, no one knew what AIDS was. People didn't know that HIV caused AIDS. People were very frightened about this mysterious and seemingly lethal illness. Since it is very hard to direct fear at an illness -itself- many people focused their fears on people with HIV and AIDS.
3. Ask students to define the term discrimination. What fuels discrimination? Expect responses such as fear and ignorance. What can reduce discrimination? Expect responses such as education and compassion.
4. Distribute the following questions (click here for printout) about the current state of the AIDS epidemic. Direct students to AIDS in Africa: Rwanda and Tanzania
For the most recent statistics on HIV/AIDS infection rates you can go to a variety of sources:
World AIDS Day
Center for Disease Control AIDS Information
Ask students to answer the questions using online resources accessed from the News Hour index page. Provide adequate time for this project in class or as a homework assignment.
· What is HIV? What is AIDS?
· How can people get HIV?
· How can people prevent HIV?
· How many people have HIV in the world? In America?
· What regions of the world have the highest rates of HIV infection?
· Can HIV be treated with medication? How? Are such treatments easy to use? Affordable? Commonly available worldwide?
· Is the AIDS epidemic the same everywhere? Why or why not?
· Do discrimination and fear related to HIV and AIDS seem specific to the United States or common in other countries?
· Does it seem simpler to treat HIV infection or prevent it?
· What are some of the factors that contribute to the disproportionate number of HIV infections in America's communities of color (males and females)?
· What are some of the factors that contribute to women's risk of HIV infection?
· Does having other sexually transmitted diseases contribute to a person's risk of HIV infection? Why?
PART 2: Deal with It
1. Ask students what they learned online. Discuss students' research. In particular, focus on the hottest aspects of the current AIDS epidemic. Where is the epidemic the worst? Why? Why are communities of color and young people disproportionately represented among new HIV infections in the U.S.?
2. Work with the class to identify facets of the epidemic that can facilitate comparison between the AIDS situation in American and Africa. Possible responses can include the number of people infected, availability of medications, and level of education about prevention etc.
3. Create a matrix on the blackboard (worksheet).
HIV and AIDS: Similarities Differences
4. Divide students into small groups.
5. Ask groups to use the facets of the AIDS epidemic identified in step 2, above, to compare and contrast the situation in Africa and America. Provide adequate time in class for each group to complete this activity by creating and completing a matrix like the one on the board.
6. After the groups complete the activity, return to the large class format and discuss the groups' findings. Complete the matrix on the board based on suggestions from the student groups.
7. Ask students what they think people should do about the AIDS epidemic both at home and overseas. Listen for responses such as "they should make better medications" or "they should keep people from having unprotected sex" instead of statements such as "we all need to be responsible." To what extent do students' responses include ideas about what "they" - i.e. other people - can do v. what "we" or "I" can do?
8. Discuss "who" really is responsible for HIV prevention. Where does prevention start? To what degree is HIV prevention a personal matter pertaining to individual behavior? How is prevention a public health issue as well? What can make prevention programs effective? Is it likely that one prevention program would work for all teens? Why or why not?
9. Ask students to work individually and write a brief essay about how HIV prevention is relevant in to them and in their community. Which behaviors put their community (or peers) at the greatest risk of HIV infection? How can they participate in preventing HIV?
Participation during class discussions and in small group work.
of research project in Part 1.
Completion of essay assigned in Part 2.