Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Addressing HIV/AIDS in the Classroom

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Addressing HIV/AIDS in the Classroom

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON

A 20-member panel of scholars, practitioners and teacher education experts came together last month to determine the core information K-12 educators need to know in order to address HIV/AIDS in their classrooms and, ultimately, to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and co-sponsored by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the "Build a Future Without AIDS" initiative is "designed to increase the comfort, confidence and abilities of pre-service teachers by establishing and expanding the knowledge base for preventing HIV/AIDS and other serious health problems," says Mwangaza Michael-Bandele, AACTE associate director of research and the initiative's project director.

David Imig, CEO and president of AACTE, says the initiative recognizes that teachers are naturally at the core of the nation's information dissemination system.

In addition, AACTE says today's teachers must be ready to meet the education and social needs of students in their classes who have AIDS or to help students cope with a parent who has AIDS. Teachers also must understand policies related to privacy, confidentiality and the means to protect themselves when handling blood spills or bodily fluids.

The panel commented upon and based their recommendations on three AACTE-commissioned papers: "Preparing Special, General and Health Educators to Teach Students with Disabilities," by Wanda J. Blanchett, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Department of Exceptional Education; "AIDS and Human Dignity: A Pedagogical Challenge," by Donaldo Macedo, University of Massachusetts, Boston; and "AIDS in the Classroom: Implications for Teacher Education Curriculum," by Jerry Rosiek, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

Commenting on the paper "AIDS in the Classroom," Lisa Green, coordinator of instruction for the New Orleans School Board Office, says that in her 15 years as an educator in urban and inner-city schools she has found many of the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS are not addressed in the classroom.

"I agree that prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS is a medical problem, but to imply that it is more of a medical than education problem causes an imbalance," Green says. "Educators are encouraged to teach the `whole child.'"

The panel recommended that when preparing future teachers to address HIV/AIDS the following should be taken into consideration:

The history of HIV/AIDS and the country's response to the disease;

The social and political factors of HIV/AIDS, with an emphasis on race and economics; and

How to provide teacher-education students with the skills to function not only as teachers but also as agents of change. …

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