HIV Education within Comprehensive School Health Education: What Does It Mean?

Article excerpt

HIV Education Within Comprehensive School Health Education: What Does It Mean?

The Centers for Disease Control has recommended that HIV education be conducted within the context of a comprehensive school health education program. Unfortunately, many school districts in this country do not have school health education programs. Several school districts do not even have a health education curriculum in place. In fact, the soon-to-be published School Health in America notes that only 25 states require health education for high school graduation. The National Association of State Boards of Education reports that the same number of states now mandate HIV education. It is hoped that this situation will improve as more school districts and states see the need for incorporating HIV education within a comprehensive school health education program.

Those who are instituting school health programs as well as many of us, may need our memories refreshed about exactly what comprehensive school health education entails. To meet this need, I have summarized an article entitled Comprehensive School Health Education: As Defined by the National Professional School Health Education Organizations (J Sch Health 1984;54(8): 312-315). Involved in developing the definition which received each organization's endorsement were the American Public Health Association's School Health Education and Services Section, American School Health Association, Association for the Advancement of Health Education, and the Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

These organizations defined the term comprehensive school health education as such, "... health education in a school setting that is planned and carried out with the purpose of maintaining, reinforcing, or enhancing the health, health-related skills, and health attitudes and practices of children and youth that are conducive to their good health ..." The article also states that comprehensive health programs traditionally encompass the three interdependent components of health education (instruction), health services, and healthful school environment. These programs involve not just school personnel and students but their families and communities in planning, implementation, and evaluation.

The committee of health education organizations involved in this process established qualitative or quantitive standards of performance or design (criteria) on which a program of comprehensive school health education may be judge. Though comprehensive school health education includes health education health services, and the healthful school environment, the following statements are limited to aspects of curriculum, administration, and teaching methodology and therefore address only the instructional program. …