There is a lot of evidence that even adolescent students can be involved in risky behavior, and many students are already infected with HIV. The prevention of HIV transmission on the base of schools is considered a tactical step of the health care and educational systems. The formation of skills to prevent HIV infection in juveniles solves a strategic task of preventing the spread of HIV among the population because young people will be less available for systematic training after graduation; meanwhile, the risk of HIV infection continues to rise. Thus, it was important to build the educational process focused on preventive measures and to analyze what goals have been achieved after the lesson, what the response of the community was and what areas shall be improved to continue the education of young people in a more effective way.
Various teaching methods were used to promote discussion and to encourage children to share their opinion and ask questions that they were interested in. The lesson started with the Teacher-Class discussion of healthy eating to cheer up the students and release the possible tension (Ateka, 2012). Then the topics of the basic sources of HIV/AIDS disease and the basic preventative measures were discussed, and the children were provided with visual and textual material to support the information. Then a vivid discussion took place (about the community support groups and health promotion strategies) and the educator evaluated the degree of students’ awareness and understanding of the topic. The questions were also answered. One of the teaching goals was to encourage children to find answers to the questions so that they would analyze the information provided to them.
Rationale for Topic
HIV/ AIDS is a threat to the stability of the contemporary American society. The epidemic leads to aggravation of social problems, it is a threat to the country’s economic stability, and it reduces the level of the nation’s health. At present, the epidemic in Miami is a socio-medical-biological phenomenon characterized by negative dynamic effect and combines the features of urgent and a long-term problem (Enriquez & Farnan, 2012). It requires both the adoption of immediate response and long-term development of the system of protection and countermeasures.
The changes in the total number of HIV-infected people in Miami shows that the spread of HIV/ AIDS has become rampant. The number of HIV-infected people is growing with negative dynamics and prevalence continues to grow steadily. The epidemiological situation of HIV infection is complicated by the fact that there is a parallel development of the epidemic of drug abuse and viral hepatitis (Enriquez & Farnan, 2012). The generality of ways and factors of transmission of pathogens, the long asymptomatic period of the disease leads to the rapid spread of HIV in groups with risk factors for infection (Latinos, Hispanics). The investigation of the factors contributing to HIV infection spreading evidences that the presence of the infection is caused by risky behavior contributing to the implementation of major routes of transmission of the virus from person to person, which are through blood and sexual contact (Ross, 2012). It revealed the fact that the epidemic has moved beyond groups with risk factors for HIV infection and spread to the wider population (Enriquez & Farnan, 2012). The experience of studying epidemic features of the disease shows that young people are particularly vulnerable to HIV due to risky sexual behavior, substance use, and lack of access to information on HIV prevention and services as well as due to a variety of other social and economic reasons.
Nevertheless, it is possible to reduce the pace of the epidemic, primarily by educating the young people. It can be assumed that preventive education in HIV/ AIDS will not only reduce the threat of infection but also will establish an understanding and increase awareness of the younger generation in the formation of healthy lifestyles and responsible behavior (Enriquez & Farnan, 2012).
As a result of the educational process, three objectives have been achieved, which were to increase awareness and the level of education of children, enhancing the expertise of the classroom teacher, and the implementation of Healthy People 2020 initiative. It should be noted that the main task to promote the discussion of the disease with the children has been achieved (Hooks, 2013). The discussion provided an opportunity for children to express their views on the causes and spread of the disease, the symptoms and possible treatment of the disease, as well as a healthy way of life based on the knowledge they gained.
According to the results of the lesson, it can be stated that the value orientations were formed in children that will subsequently have an impact on their behavior and the adoption of vital decisions. Discussions were held with the whole class and in small groups in order to evaluate if the educational objectives have been achieved (Ateka, 2012). The discussion encouraged the free exchange of ideas and helped students to get a clear idea about the concepts associated with HIV/ AIDs, which contributed to the development of the individual motivational resources in adolescents required for effective action in the field of preventive behavior.
In addition, one of the aims of the HIV education is educating teachers of city schools, in particular, classroom teachers, educational psychologists, and social workers. The aim of the training was to prepare the teacher for instructing adolescents in HIV prevention with the help of the educational environment. This goal was achieved due to the increased pedagogic competence in HIV infection, and the teacher was instructed in characteristics of adolescent psychology (Hooks, 2013). In addition, the professional attitude to the problem of HIV / AIDS was formed. The teacher was acquainted with psychological and pedagogical technologies to ensure the effectiveness of the prevention of HIV/ AIDS among adolescents in the educational environment. In addition, Healthy People 2020 objective was achieved, which entails the promotion of health and disease prevention (Masi, 2015).
Response to Teaching
When talking about the response to training, it is important to note that the students were devoid of sufficient information about HIV/ AIDS and how to prevent HIV infection. The absence of a single pedagogical concept for the prevention of HIV infection among pupils also affected the distribution of information about a healthy lifestyle (Ateka, 2012). In general, the overall response to teaching was positive, notwithstanding the age of the students; the children were ready to discuss the disease actively, in particular, the topic of sex and sex education as well as all the aspects of the disease (Ross, 2012). Many children shared information about HIV that they were told by their parents and asked questions that were not clear to them. Thus, it can be stated that the learning process was quite effective, and the goals have been achieved.
Moreover, the students were actively involved in the discussion of their views on the impact of general social trends. Views were expressed about the tendency to stigmatize or, conversely, to romanticize sex and sexual attitudes, which directly or indirectly, may affect the effectiveness of sexual education of schoolchildren in perspective. One of the challenges of presenting information to students was found in HIV-stigmatization of vulnerable groups: homosexual men, drug users, foreigners, migrants and others, as well as discrimination, referred to them (Fordham, 2014). Quite often, the content of educational information on the prevention of HIV infection aims at reducing the contact with the members of risk groups. Discrimination and stigmatization of people living with HIV have provoked a clash of opinions; nevertheless, one of the most crucial outcomes was that children reassessed their views on the people with HIV (Fordham, 2014). Apart from that, it was important that students would associate their own behavior such as sexual relationships with classmates with the possibility of being infected if having sex without due protection (Ross, 2012). From the point of view of this position, children were highly interested in socializing with children infected with HIV, and many did not know that the infection could not be spread through hugging, kissing and so on. The reaction of the children was positive, and this information helped remove some psychological stress in the classroom.
Areas of Strengths and Areas of Improvement
One of the current problems is the contradiction between the content of educational programs and the overall work on the prevention of dangerous behavior in terms of HIV infection in society. At certain stages of the organization of HIV prevention lesson, a conflict has arisen between the internal and external (in relation to the educational system) flows of information. It is necessary that the same activity in the educational process as the media is maintained in order to improve the situation. In addition, the lack of trained teaching staff is one of the areas where the need for improvement is obvious (Ateka, 2012). An important factor hindering the education of students on the prevention of the disease is the lack of specialists trained in educating adolescents on the skills of safe behavior in terms of HIV/ AIDS infection. Rather often teachers are reluctant to discuss relevant issues with students. The attempts to conduct preventive work by the teaching staff who do not have proper training can result in a negative perception of information by students.
However, an important positive trend is the psychological readiness of teenagers to perceive contradictory information that has sexual connotations or the information that causes fear (Ateka, 2012). The outcomes of the lesson showed that age-psychological characteristics of adolescents (emotional imbalance, juvenile negativism, need to test everything themselves) could be overcome, if the educational strategy, methods, and materials are chosen correctly. Also, the atmosphere of the lesson encouraged the students to discuss and exchange their opinions, which evidences that they were interested in discussing this topic, and the fact that they were willing to perceive and analyze information related to their health and conscious behavior.
In conclusion, much of the information from the educational institution’s perspective may be interpreted negatively in the mind of a teenager. Information about the threat of HIV infection during sexual intercourse is often perceived as a formal abstract threat of retribution for disobedience in the area of sexual morality. Warnings about the threat of HIV infection when taking drugs can be regarded as an additional factor of intimidation related to negative consequences of their use. Therefore, it is crucial to choose the right means of presenting important information, and use the methods of working with adolescents in which children are not given ready-made answers, but they try to answer questions related to health status themselves.
Ateka, F. (2012). Curriculum implementation. Saarbrucken, Germany: Lap Lambert Academic Publishing GmbH KG.
Enriquez, M., & Farnan, R. (2012). What nurses now…HIV/AIDS. New York, NY: Demos Medical Publishing.
Fordham, G. (2014). HIV/AIDS and the social consequences of untamed biomedicine. New York, NY: Routledge.
Hooks, B. (2013). Teaching community. New York, NY: Routledge.
Masi, K. (2015). Intervention strategies to engage young people in HIV/AIDS education. Saarbrucken, Germany: Omniscriptum Gmbh & Company Kg.
Ross, M. (2012). HIV/AIDS and sexuality. New York, NY: Routledge.