The Importance of HIV/AIDS Awareness

Although about 40,000 new HIV infection cases are reported each year in the , AIDS education remains the essential worldwide method to prevent the disease from spreading. This specific education is aimed to reaching all ages, especially young adults, who are sexually active. However, teaching AIDS education in schools has become a controversial issue.

The main reason why AIDS education should be taught in middle and high schools is due to the growing trends of sexually active teens. The motivation for teaching it in schools is because almost all young people attend school in some point in their life. AIDS education in other ways, or locations, may not be as universal to reaching the young population. For example, not all teens go to the same medical facilities, churches, or organizations. Plus, these places may not provide or may have misleading AIDS education materials. However, schools are a place where students can receive the same message. Based on tradition, parents are supposed to tell their children about sex and the responsibilities and dangers that go along with it. On the other hand, parents are sometimes not equipped with updated AIDS information. Some parents may be embarrassed to have the conversation or may block the AIDS topic altogether due to moral beliefs. Based on Avert.org, an interviewee named Erika stated, “If I wouldn’t of learned about all the STDs that I could get from being sexually active I might not be a virgin right now.”

The major challenge facing the instruction of AIDS education is the adults who determine the curriculum. These adults, who consist of parents, teachers, and/or legislators, sometimes feel the topic of AIDS is too mature for most young people. In addition, moral or religious perspectives clash among the adults. The problem lies in the concern that teaching young people about sex, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and pregnancy will encourage teens to have sex. Monica, a study interviewee, stated “I don’t think sex education is something that young kids should be learning. Learning sex is at a young age is like provoking more young people to have sexâÂ?¦” However, this attitude does not represent the majority of Americans. A study in the showed that 55% of Americans feel that teaching students about how to obtain and use a condom will not encourage sex. Most adults are recognizing that information about the dangers of AIDS can prevent teens from becoming infected in the future. Despite that teens are rarely asked whether or not AIDS should be taught, some agree that it is a good idea. Maire, a student interviewee, stated, “I believe that sex education that is handled appropriately, and that is age-appropriate, will really empower kids to make healthier, informed and positive choices.”

Teaching AIDS education is important, but teaching it in the proper way is also vital for teens. There are several factors affecting the implementation of an AIDS education curriculum. Providing the right materials at the right age has been an ongoing battle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that middle and high schools are being taught about abstinence, condom efficiency, and risks associated with multiple sexual partners. Approximately 99 percent of senior high schools are taught how HIV is transmitted. Classroom prejudice is another factor in AIDS education. HIV positive individuals are at times looked down upon. Ignorance leads to prejudice; therefore, clearing up misunderstandings about the disease cane help teens from abusing people, or even themselves, who are infected with HIV. Active-learning, rather than traditional academic settings, is suggested when instructing young people about AIDS. Students should be allowed to do group work and role-playing sessions that will get them accustomed to saying “no” to sex. Plus, information is better retained when students can actually apply it. Lastly, parental involvement must be part of AIDS education. Parents or guardians are less likely to complain about the content being taught if they are part of the process. In addition, parents can provide extra support for their children during the AIDS lesson.

Another problem that exists is the lack of a friendly atmosphere to teach AIDS education. The key to students’ retention of AIDS information is providing willing and experienced individuals to teach them. The focus turns to teaching the teachers. It is imperative that instructors feel comfortable talking about sex and its dangers to their students. If teachers convey discomfort, teens will sense their uneasiness and may disregard what is taught and always associate this displayed feeling with the subject. Instead, teachers should feel entirely clear on the information as well as confident that they can answer questions that might be asked in their classroom. Proper teacher-training would help reduce any concerns that could arise when AIDS is taught. Equal importance, pertaining to creating a pleasant environment, should be focused on listening to the learners. Instructors should not expect students to discuss AIDS in front of their classmates, unless they volunteer to do so. Students should be allowed to plan and work with others before presenting information to the class. Teachers should remember that students can be hesitant to share due to personal issues, such as, homosexuality or a HIV+ status. Lastly, students should be able to ask questions and express themselves freely, while not being criticized for their efforts.

Despite decades of AIDS prevention, the epidemic is still prevalent throughout the world. Every year, increasing numbers of young people are infected with HIV and continue to die. AIDS education remains to be the global effort against this disease. The educational system is the most important means of reaching young people to stop the spread of AIDS.

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