Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Palm Beach County to Integrate HIV/AIDS Education Into 10th-Grade Science Curriculum
Palm Beach County, Fla., school officials announced on Thursday that they will introduce "special lessons" on HIV/AIDS into the 10th-grade biology curriculum, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The new lesson plan, revealed in draft form Thursday, comes at the request of the CDC in response to new statistics that show the county to be fifth out of 101 large metropolitan centers in the nation for new HIV infections. All students will study the "scientific basis of [HIV] transmission" during a week-long session that will examine the "interactions of viruses, enzymes, proteins and antibodies." Other, more "controversial" sections may be optional for students. Lyn Slygh, the district science teacher who drew up the plan, suggested that teachers demonstrate how latex can block the virus by submerging a condom filled with water in an iodine solution. She said teachers could also use latex gloves for the demonstration if they were uncomfortable using condoms. Using materials from the CDC, which provides the district with an annual $235,000 grant for HIV prevention, the lessons will promote abstinence as the "only sure way" to stop HIV transmission, but will also discuss "safer sex" and unsafe sexual practices. Sarah Watson, a program specialist with the Comprehensive AIDS Program, said that HIV prevention education was a good idea, but worried that "[i]f they're only talking about science, it's not going to do anything to prevent the disease." Scientific questions will "inevitably" lead to questions about sex, she said, adding that "if the teacher shuts down when they ask, there's no point in doing the experiments. You might as well give accurate information." Final curriculum guidelines will be given to teachers in October (Solomon, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/10).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.