Sunday, March 15, 2009
HIV/AIDS Education in the District
This weekend I was confronted with some startling HIV/AIDS statistics that have recently been published. With stark headlines such as, "HIV/AIDS rates in DC higher than Africa," media all over the United States have perked up their ears to put in their own say on what the problem is in DC.
Here's a quick link to the WASH POST article detailing changing rates and problems...
As a public school teacher in one of the wards with the highest HIV/AIDS rates I can truthfully say that there has been absolutely no workshops/awareness or even talk about what has not just appeared as a problem, but has been a problem for years. If anyone is more at risk than the children coming up in a community laden with fears of HIV/AIDS I'd like to know who.
The sexual promiscuity of students at my school, with each other, with older high school students and even older out of school men and women is terrifying. Sexual education as taboo as it is, is necessary. Children coming from mothers with 10-12 children are clearly going to be less knowledgeable about safe sex and condoms as their Ward 3 counterparts. The abstinence only approach has failed the students of DC and it is showing.
Doing a little research I found that ALLEGEDLY HIV/AIDS prevention is incorporated into DC testing standards, yet I have heard little about this and had to seek out the information on my own to even find a small mention. While classroom teachers are not obligated to teach on HIV/AIDS it is relegated to Health & Physical Education (Gym) on the DCPS website stating, "HPE classes meet one day a week for each grade level in elementary schools"...well I will be the first to say my children have DEFINITELY not received this much time for PE...in fact we don't even have special subjects (gym, art, music, library, technology) although there are teachers for all at our school. Hmmm....guess they're not getting their due time in PE and thus have not learned about HIV/AIDS at school, although I would be willing to bet that a fair number of my students know someone affected by HIV/AIDS.
While HIV/AIDS in DC is an issue that needs to be tackled from many different arenas, in order to look hopefully toward the future and ensure change, educating the youth should be a primary task and the public schools are the venue where this should be taking place. If DC is finally scared into changing their attitude and their ideology behind public education of HIV/AIDS then where better to start than in the public schools? I for one offer my students at the alter of education because in this over-sexualized country and under-educated population, these are some of the invisible victims of the crisis that is storming DC.
DCPS on HIV/AIDS Prevention Education