Teaching The Topic Of HIV In RSE

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Key Stage: 3 & 4
Subject: Humanities
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In article nine of his 12-part series, Justin Hancock of DO… talks about how to cover the topic of HIV in RSE for World AIDS Day, Friday 1 December.

I recently spoke to Rosalie Hayes, Policy & Campaigns Officer at the National AIDS Trust; and a member of the DO… Collaboration.

She believes: “HIV education needs to focus more on the fact there are people living with HIV among us in the UK. It’s an issue that affects all of us, because we not only have a role to play in reducing the risk of HIV transmission, but also in reducing stigma in society.”

Although teaching students about the biological factors of HIV and the risks of passing it onto others is important, it’s only one small part of high-quality RSE. It’s important to focus on what everyone can do to make people safer from all the risks of HIV – both the health risks but also the risks of the stigma. We need to focus on what more can be done to prevent the blaming, shaming or bullying of people living with HIV.

We should also cover how the prejudicial treatment of schools, workplaces, the law, services and government can make the lives of people affected by HIV much more difficult.

Any kind of discrimination is obviously not good. However, this kind makes people very wary about seeking support – so it makes HIV a lot more difficult to tackle. We need to deal with this problem, as there are thousands of young people in our schools living with or affected by HIV, who are unlikely to have told anyone about their situation.

Organisations such as CHIVA do a lot to care and support children, young people and families living with HIV (check out its HIV in Schools PDF to find out more.

You’ll also find The National AIDS Trust, a member of the DO… Collaboration, have excellent UK-specific resources for young people and teachers. Their unique problem-solving exercises and links to resources such as NAT’s HIV Aware, can help students learn more about HIV.

If you’re going to teach HIV specifically (or any standalone RSE topic) it’s important to get up to speed, because medical progress is now so rapid and access to services change all the time.

We recommend heading to the NAT website for the most current teaching resources as they’re updated every year.

Wearing red ribbons for World AIDS Day is also a simple yet powerful way to inform people about HIV/AIDS and show your support. You can also make them available to your students by ordering them online from NAT here.

For resources and support to make great RSE happen in your school, visit dorseforschools.com.

Verdict

Take-home message

HIV is still a huge public health issue in the UK today – in fact it’s a worldwide problem, which is why we need to go beyond treating it as a transmittable medical condition but also address the stigma and discrimination people living with HIV face. So, it’s ironic we can inadvertently reinforce stigma and discrimination when teaching RSE (Relationships and Sex Education).

Remember – statutory RSE is coming, so why not head to dorseforschools.com? Whether you have a well-established teaching programme or are just starting out, you’ll find something there for you. Our resources are written by leading experts in the field, they’re accredited by the PSHE Association and are completely free and available now.

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