Academic journal article Education

HIV/AIDS Education: A Comparison of Public and Non-Public Secondary Instruction Effectiveness

Academic journal article Education

HIV/AIDS Education: A Comparison of Public and Non-Public Secondary Instruction Effectiveness

Article excerpt

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and its subsequent manifestation, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), continue to create significant health concerns as their sero-prevelance expands in scope and magnitude (Centers for Disease Control, 1995). While the impact of these diseases is felt in all strata of society, the infections, well established among youth (Cox, 1996), contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality among adolescents and young adults (Rosenberg, 1995). Among youth, intervening in this growing health issue has required a multifaceted approach, a major component of which has been school-based education (National Association of State Boards of Education, 1991). The effectiveness of these efforts have yielded divergent results with data suggesting both a cognitively informed adolescent population and a population holding substantial misconceptions about basic information, transmission and preventive methodologies (Garman and Lottes, 1994; Garman and Lottes, 1996). In an effort to reduce this divergency, it may be advantageous to compare the types of methodology utilized and the amount of instruction received in the public and non-public secondary classroom.

This investigation was undertaken to compare the scope and efficiency of HIV/AIDS education received, by students, in public and non-public education at the secondary level. Specific objectives included a comparison of HIV/AIDS knowledge of recent high school graduates; an identification and quantification of "instructional methodology" utilized in public and non-public, school-based HIV/AIDS education; a determination of influences affecting the outcome efficiency of HIV/AIDS instruction received during the secondary experience and identification of predictors of HIV/AIDS learning outcomes.


Participants were voluntarily recruited from students enrolled in the general health curriculum at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Subjects were asked to anonymously complete a 43 item, self-administered survey instrument designed to assess demographic variables, basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention as well as the scope and magnitude of instruction received during their secondary education experience. The instrument developed was a modification of a subject specific questionnaire, utilized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Department of Health (McKenna & Young, 1990) and included 11 questions focusing on demographic variables; 13 inquiries relating to scope of instruction; 10 questions dealing with basic disease information and 9 relating to misconceptions. Data was collected during the initial meetings of the course, well in advance of any instruction or discussion about sexually transmitted diseases, infections or other curricular topics dealing with or related to HIV or AIDS. Items not answered by subjects were scored as "no response" rather than as "error."

Results and Discussion

Public school graduates, when evaluated for measures of central tendency, exhibited a predominantly white, non-Hispanic, female, young adult sample (n = 255) who resided in suburban areas of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and who demonstrated an overall HIV/AIDS knowledge of 91.04 [+ or -] 0.726 (mean [+ or -] s.e.m.) percent. The majority of respondents self-reported their academic rank as "the middle or above" and graduated in classes ranging in size from 100 to 300 students. Ninety-four percent received information about HIV/AIDS at the secondary level with 36% receiving information during the eleventh grade. Further, 63% had HIV/AIDS information presented as part of an instructional unit (series of lessons). The most frequently allocated amount of instructional time devoted to HIV/AIDS was 0-3 hours. The three most common venues for presenting HIV/AIDS information were health class, other gatherings (assemblies) and physical education class, with 83% receiving instruction during health class. Multiple instructional strategies were employed to disseminate information with lecture, use of pamphlets/brochures, and films/videos appearing to be the most frequently utilized methodologies. …

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