December 1st is World AIDS Day. There are many resources and media educators can use in the classroom to draw attention to and teach about HIV and AIDS. Often I’ve noticed that educators use forms of media and activities that honor those who have died of complications of AIDS, focus on rates of HIV infection worldwide, and are only discussed for one day or week. Forgotten are those who are living positive with HIV, especially youth, honest discussions about transmission and treatment of HIV and AIDS, and on how the ideas of young people can be used to raise awareness and educate others in an inter-generational way.
In the past I’ve shared some resources I’ve found useful for educational and community space for World AIDS Day and for discussions about living positive and remaining HIV negative. These include suggestions for National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day March 10th, how I approach and discuss conspiracy theories around HIV with students who bring them up, the myths and messages youth have around HIV and AIDS, interview with Miss Kings County 2011 whose platform was “de-stigmatizing getting tested for HIV,” a history of HIV and AIDS media messages, and examples of how I teach and discuss HIV and AIDS in a human sexuality class.
One of the first things I hope we as educators remember is that although there is one day worldwide we focus on HIV and AIDS; these are conversations that must occur year round. The most comprehensive film about the history of HIV and AIDS in the US and internationally is the PBS Frontline documentary Age of AIDS. The full program is online and over 3 hours long. Often I have students watch the first hour and a half at home as homework and then watch the last hour to get an idea of how the views of HIV and AIDS emerged and have shifted today. Below are a few sources of media that may be useful for educators and those working with youth or planning interactive programs for HIV and AIDS in general and for World AIDS Day.
“I’m Positive” Documentary
This year MTV has partnered with The Kaiser Family Foundation, Octagon Entertainment, and DrDrew Productions to present the documentary “I’m Positive” focusing on three young people living positive and will air on World AIDS Day. If the communities you are working with have access to cable or the internet, it may be a good idea to mention this documentary and ask them to watch. I’m not a huge fan of Dr. Drew’s work with youth, but believe there may be a lot of useful discussions we can have with viewers pre-and post-watching the documentary. I have no doubt that MTV will have this documentary on their website within 24 hours of it being aired and that it will air more than once.
Sero is a non-profit human rights organization that centers people living positive. Their mission includes “promoting the empowerment of people with HIV, combating HIV-related stigma and advocating for sound public health and HIV prevention policies based on science and epidemiology rather than ignorance and fear. Sero is particularly focused on ending inappropriate criminal prosecutions of people with HIV for non-disclosure of their HIV status, potential or perceived HIV exposure or HIV transmission.”
Sero has created an online library of video testimonies of people living positive. These videos go well with The Body’s publication by writer Dave R. “Crime and Punishment: An International HIV Disclosure Dilemma.” Dave R. follows and reports on some of the cases occurring worldwide around HIV disclosure. Below is the story of Monique Moree, an Army veteran who was prosecuted for non-disclosure.
TeachAIDS HIV/AIDS Prevention Tutorial
TeachAIDS is a project at Stanford University focusing on creating interactive approaches to educating folks on HIV and AIDS. The have a strong library of videos on their YouTube channel with videos on Mandarin, Swahili, Kinyarwada, Hindi, Telugu, and Spanish. Below is a cartoon style clip featuring Southeast Asian communities. The video also has built in subtitles in English. I appreciate their representations, especially of the white blood cells as soldiers. This is one way I explain to youth what white blood cells do and how they keep us healthy. If you only have a hour long session and want to get good information into your time with students, this video covers all of the HIV 101 needs.
I’m one of those educators who believes it’s important to discuss HIV and other aspects of our bodies and sexuality with youth in age appropriate and honest ways throughout our lives. As a result, I loved when the online teaching site BrainPop created a short video for HIV. They have a full space devoted to health topics and one of their free videos each year for World AIDS Day is on HIV. They also feature BrainPop Jr. for grades K-3 and BrainPop en español. If your school or space does not have the funds to subscribe to BrainPop they offer a free 3 day trial offer where you an explore the site and watch the films and take the short quizzes offered.
Finally, encouraging youth to find locations to get tested now has an app! The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created the HIV/AIDS Prevention & Service Provider Locator which can be used as an app or on other mobile devices. I admit I was very surprised when I used the locator for my area and discovered there were NO testing locations in my community, which is also the community where I teach. Although there were several testing areas in other communities near my neighborhood, they were all over several miles away. I wonder what does this mean for the youth and students I work with on a daily basis who want to know their HIV status and need testing services.
To remind those of us who remember a time when HIV and AIDS were not widely known about that we are living in the future, researchers re also looking to create an app that can test for HIV via a cell phone. These approaches to using media, popular culture, technology, and medicine to test for HIV can have an impact on youth today. I’m sure they would have a lot to say about if this would work for informing partners, communicating with a partner, and issues of hacking.
What are some of the sources you use in the classroom or with your community? If you’ve used any of these what have been the reactions? Here’s to supporting one another as educators. If your students and faculty haven’t told you that you are appreciated I want you to know I appreciate all the work and education that is being done worldwide.