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This lesson plan is supplemented with material from

AIDS in Africa

April 19, 2001
Web posted at: 4:56 PM EDT (2056 GMT)

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Curriculum connections: Social Studies; Health - - AIDS in Africa


  • Analyze the legitimacy of the pharmaceutical companies' lawsuit.
  • Evaluate the impact of AIDS in Africa and the United States.
  • Determine the similarities and differences of the impact of AIDS in Africa and the United States.
  • Write a letter expressing ways that the United States can help Africa in the struggle against AIDS.


National Council for the Social Studies
IX Global connections, grades nine - 12
High school level, students are able to think systematically about personal, national, and global decisions, interactions, and consequences, including addressing critical issues such as peace, human rights, trade, and global ecology.

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
Health, Level 4 (grades 9-12)
High school students should understand the social, economic, and political effects of disease on individuals, families, and communities

Materials article, "AIDS drug battle ends, clears way for cheaper treatment,"
Internet access
Chart paper, colored pens and pencils

Suggested time

One class period


1. Survey the class to assess students' knowledge of HIV/AIDS. Discuss the AIDS situation in the United States and the world as well as prevention campaigns and social implications. Ask students if they are aware of the international attention on Africa since reports listed staggering numbers of AIDS cases there.

2. Have students read the article, "AIDS drug battle ends, clears way for cheaper treatment," and ask the following:

  • What was a coalition of 40 pharmaceutical companies arguing in their lawsuit? What were some reasons given in the article regarding why the companies have dropped the lawsuit? Why do you agree or disagree with the pharmaceutical companies' lawsuit?
  • What is the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act? Why do you think it is important for a developing country to have access to cheap generic copies of patented drugs? How many people are infected with HIV in Africa? Why did Wilbert Pannenberg, a World Health Organization official, state that access to affordable drugs is a "human rights issue"? Why do you think this law suit would cause a public relations disaster for the pharmaceutical companies?
  • Review the quote by Simon Cohen, a patents expert, who said, "As far as the big pharmaceutical companies are concerned they were not making considerable sales in South Africa anyway because the drugs could not be afforded, so it is not as if they will have lost a big market." Explain the significance and meaning of this statement.

3. Divide the class into four groups. Assign each group one of the following topics: orphaned children, financial/economical consequences, availability/access to medicine and availability/access to education. Direct students to investigate the impact AIDS has had on their topic in both Africa and the United States.


Students can follow the classroom project The difference in AIDS and HIV. This project examines the origin, transmission, prevention and treatment of the disease, as well as the importance of education in stopping this worldwide epidemic.


Have students present their findings to the class. They may create charts and graphs to present their information. Hold a class discussion about the similarities and differences from the impact of AIDS in the United States and Africa. Evaluate methods that have lessened the impact of AIDS in the United States and determine how these examples could be transferred to alleviate the situation in Africa.


Logical/mathematical Students can create a chart of the impact of AIDS on orphaned children, financial/economical consequences, availibility/access to medicine and availibility/ access to education in Africa. Students can also include ways to lessen the effects of AIDS.


Inform the students that the Department of State is the lead U.S. international affairs agency, and the Secretary of State is the president's principal international policy adviser. Students can write a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell giving specific examples of means that the United States can use to help people in Africa in their struggle against AIDS.

FYI Backgrounder -- Aids in Africa: Dying by the numbers
FYI Backgrounder -- Aids: Africa in Peril
Africa's lost generation
Lesson plan: South Africa's AIDS epidemic
August 17, 2000
Backgrounder -- Aids: Africa in Peril
Economic impact -- School Tools -- Aids: Africa in Peril

AIDS Economics Home Page
UNAIDS The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS
Dept of Health - HIV/AIDS - United States and Florida HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services home page

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