amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Washington, D.C., To Implement HIV/AIDS Curriculum in Fall 2008

February 11, 2008—In January, public health officials in Washington, D.C., announced plans to implement a comprehensive HIV/AIDS curriculum in the city’s public schools by fall 2008. The D.C. Board of Education gave unanimous consent for the curriculum guidelines.

Beginning in fifth grade and continuing through high school, students will be provided with grade-specific sex education and HIV/AIDS information. The guidelines emphasize abstinence as one means of preventing HIV, but also include education on how the virus is and is not transmitted, the symptoms of AIDS, and how to eliminate HIV-related stigma. Input from parents, educators, and public health professionals was solicited in determining the guidelines.

The announcement of the curriculum came shortly after the independent advocacy group, D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, gave the city a “D” for its lack of progress in providing HIV/AIDS education to students.

Washington, D.C., has struggled to implement a comprehensive HIV/AIDS curriculum even though data released by the city’s Department of Public Health in December 2007 indicated that one in 20 residents is infected with HIV and one in 50 has AIDS. These rates are higher than those in some sub-Saharan African nations.

The next steps in implementing the newly approved guidelines include deciding how to teach the curriculum and what materials to use for the upcoming school year. Educators will borrow material from other sources to teach the program this year while they continue to develop their own curriculum, which will be ready in late 2009.

For more information on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C., see amfAR’s January Policy Update Washington Releases City’s First Statistics on HIV.