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CNN Student News Learning Activity: World AIDS Day

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  • Students will learn about the history and status of AIDS in the United States
  • Students will create ways to inform others about the the risks of AIDS
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Students will learn about the history of the AIDS pandemic and the status of AIDS in the United States. Students will create ways to inform various demographic groups in the U.S. about the risk of HIV/AIDS.


Inform students that December 1 is World AIDS Day. Since this day was first marked in 1988, people and organizations around the globe have worked to bring attention to the AIDS pandemic. The United Nations notes that in 2007, more than 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV or AIDS, and of this number, 2 million were children under the age of 15. According to the U.S. government, more than 1 million Americans are currently living with HIV/AIDS.

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Next, refer student groups to the online resources provided to learn more about AIDS, the history of the AIDS pandemic and the status of this disease in the United States. Provide the following questions to guide the groups' research:

  1. What is HIV? How is it different from "full-blown" AIDS? How is HIV spread? How does it affect the human body?
  2. What are some ways in which individuals can protect themselves from contracting HIV?
  3. What groups of people are at the greatest risk for contracting HIV in the U.S.? How have the demographics of those at risk for contracting HIV changed over the past two decades?

Then, assign each student group one of the following U.S. demographic groups that are at risk for contracting HIV: teens, Hispanics, African-Americans, women, health care professionals, drug users and homosexuals. Challenge student groups to act as CDC AIDS awareness committees for your state, and to devise strategies for informing their assigned demographic groups about the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Direct each group to identify and research some of the problems that are associated with the prevention and treatment of HIV in its demographic. Then, ask each group to brainstorm a list of practical strategies aimed at stopping the AIDS epidemic in its assigned demographic group. Using the information gathered, instruct each group to create informational materials that it thinks would best target and inform its assigned demographic.

As groups present their HIV/AIDS information, ask them to discuss their choice of format, language used and information emphasized in their materials. Ask students to compare the similarities and differences in the student-created materials. Ask: Which materials do you think are best suited for each of the groups?

Correlated Standards


Standard 1: Knows the availability and effective use of health services, products, and information

Level III (Grade 6-8)

Benchmark 2. Knows how to locate and use community health information, products, and services that provide valid health information

Standard 8: Knows essential concepts about the prevention and control of disease

Level III (Grade 6-8)

Benchmark 1. Understands how lifestyle, pathogens, family history, and other risk factors are related to the cause or prevention of disease and other health problems

Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) (, 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.


HIV, AIDS, AIDS prevention, World AIDS Day, epidemic, pandemic, demographic

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