Lessons to beat taboo over Aids

30th November 2007 at 00:00
Can you catch HIV by sharing someone's toothbrush? Or by using their cutlery? Or by helping them if they cut their finger?

Pupils will be addressing such questions in personal, social and health education lessons today and next week in order to mark annual World Aids Day tomorrow.

The World Aids Day charity has produced teaching packs for key stages 3 and 4, dispelling many myths surrounding HIV and Aids.

The aim is to ensure that pupils are able to protect themselves against infection when they become sexually active. But the lessons are also intended to challenge prejudice and address the global issues surrounding HIV and Aids.

Emma Bickerstaff, of World Aids Day, said: "We're concerned about the lack of very basic knowledge, about how HIV is passed on, how people can prevent it and who is at risk. We need to give young people the knowledge to be able to negotiate relationships."

The teaching pack also includes suggestions on how to incorporate lessons on HIV across the curriculum. For example, geography teachers are encouraged to discuss the different impact of Aids in the developed and developing worlds.

Economics teachers are given tips on how to examine the impact of HIV. And there are ideas on how to discuss HIV and Aids in morning assembly.

Ms Bickerstaff said: "There's a taboo around HIV. You get teachers who don't feel that they have got the training or knowledge to talk about it. Or they might be too embarrassed.

"We want to address that stigma and prejudice."

A survey conducted by World Aids Day revealed that HIV awareness has fallen significantly over the past five years. But about 7,800 people in Britain are infected by HIV every year.

www.worldaidsday.org.

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