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EDUCATION with Student News

Learning Activity: World AIDS Day

(CNN Student News) -- Your students will learn about the history of the AIDS pandemic and the status of AIDS in the United States. Students will create ways to inform various demographic groups in the U.S. about the risk of HIV/AIDS.


Inform students that December 1 is World AIDS Day. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that since 1981, when AIDS was first identified in the U.S., more than 20 million people worldwide have died from the disease. Today, more than 40 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with HIV or AIDS. In the United States alone, an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 Americans are now living with HIV, and 35,000 to 40,000 new infections are occurring every year.

Next, refer student groups to the online resources provided to learn more about AIDS, the history the AIDS pandemic and the status of this disease in the United States. Provide the following questions to guide the groups' research:

  • What is HIV? How is it different from "full-blown" AIDS? How is HIV spread? How does it affect the human body?
  • What are some ways in which individuals can protect themselves from contracting HIV?
  • What groups of people are at the greatest risk for contracting HIV in the U.S.? How have the demographics of those at risk for contracting HIV changed over the past two decades?
  • Then, assign each group one of the following U.S. demographic groups at risk for contracting HIV: teens, Hispanics, African-Americans, women, health care professionals, drug users or homosexuals. Challenge student groups to act as CDC AIDS awareness committees for your state and to devise strategies for informing their assigned demographic groups about the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Direct each group to identify and research some of the problems associated with the prevention and treatment of HIV in this demographic. Then, ask each group to brainstorm a list of practical strategies aimed at stopping the AIDS epidemic in its assigned demographic group. Using the information gathered, instruct each group to create informational materials that it thinks would best target and inform its assigned demographic.

    As groups present their HIV/AIDS information, ask them to discuss their choice of format, language used and information emphasized in their materials. Ask students to compare the similarities and differences in the student-created materials. Ask: Which materials do you think are best suited for each of the groups?

    Correlated Standards


    Standard 1: Knows the availability and effective use of health services, products, and information

    Level III (Grade 6-8)

    Benchmark 2. Knows how to locate and use community health information, products, and services that provide valid health information

    Standard 8: Knows essential concepts about the prevention and control of disease

    Level III (Grade 6-8)

    Benchmark 1. Understands how lifestyle, pathogens, family history, and other risk factors are related to the cause or prevention of disease and other health problems

    Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) ( link), 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990


    HIV, AIDS, AIDS prevention, World AIDS Day, epidemic, pandemic, demographic

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