Iran to Teach HIV/AIDS Prevention in Schools
Bahram Yeganeh, head of Iran's National Committee to Fight AIDS, announced yesterday that Iranian schools will begin teaching HIV/AIDS prevention for the first time during the academic year that begins this September, the AP/Boston Globe reports. The mention of "anything related to sex is largely taboo" in Iran -- an Islamic nation that does not include any sex education in its present school curriculum -- and the Education Ministry had previously opposed proposals to teach HIV/AIDS awareness in schools on the grounds that such education "promotes the corruption of young people." However, officials were swayed to add HIV/AIDS prevention materials to the curriculum by a "rapid increase" in new HIV infections. As of January 2002, there were 3,340 officially recorded cases of HIV infection, compared to 1,800 cases in 1999, although experts estimate that more than 19,000 Iranians may actually be infected with the virus. During the academic year that begins on Sept. 23, secondary school students will receive materials that describe how HIV infection can occur, including how the virus can be spread through unprotected sex. The materials, which will eventually be added to textbooks, also mention condoms as a means of reducing the risk of HIV transmission, but they place an emphasis on "respecting religious and family values and avoiding sex outside of marriage." The risk of HIV transmission through hypodermic syringes is also mentioned in the educational materials. Younger students will also learn about the disease in school, although HIV/AIDS will only be described as a "bad disease that harms people" (Dareini, AP/Boston Globe, 4/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.