Charity steps in to fill ‘staggering’ gaps in HIV education

Friday, November 30, 2018

10 young people[i] are diagnosed with HIV every week yet young people’s knowledge about HIV remains poor. In a survey of young gay and bisexual men between ages 14 and 19, over a quarter did not know how HIV is passed on, and the majority did not know how often HIV testing is recommended.[ii] A recent survey showed 34% of secondary school students in Scotland believed HIV can be acquired through contact with toilet seats.[iii]

Today NAT (National AIDS Trust) and DO (a PSHE Association-accredited RSE programme supported by Durex) launched a schools pack to urgently fill the gaps in HIV knowledge during the wait for mandatory relationships and sex education (RSE) to begin. The pack was developed closely with educators to appropriately meet the needs of the UK’s young people.

Photos from the launch are available for download here. The schools pack is here.

Recent data from the Sex Education Forum has shown that teachers want more support in order to be able to teach about sexual health (including HIV and other STIs), as they prepare for compulsory relationships and sex education.[iv] NAT’s new pack enables teachers to teach about HIV in an informative and engaging way which meets and goes beyond government requirements.

The pack was launched at Frederick Bremer School (star of Channel 4’s Educating the East End) with a series of assemblies ending Nov 30, ahead of World AIDS Day. The pack includes guidance for teachers on teaching about HIV, and a range of lesson plans and activities for learning the key facts about HIV, what it’s like living with HIV, and how to take action on HIV stigma.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: “We are working hard to ensure good quality education on HIV is mandatory in all schools, but this will take time to come into effect and meanwhile the dangerous gaps in young people’s awareness are staggering. We have stepped in and worked with young people and adults living with HIV, PSHE teachers and sex education experts to create resources that make it easy for teachers to deliver appropriate and clear HIV education. We hope the pack will be used widely and teachers and students will benefit.”

Anne Dawson, leading on the Durex programme said: “The new HIV schools pack by NAT is a perfect complement to the DO... programme. This pack will empower educators to delve deeper into the topic of HIV within the high-quality relationships and sex education framework of DO… I am really looking forward to building on the good feedback it has already received from teachers and ensuring as many young people as possible benefit”.

For more details or further comment, contact senior press officer Charlie Alderwick: 020 7814 6727

[i] Based on Public Health England data of new diagnoses amongst people aged 24 and under, extracted from Public Health England, 2018. National HIV Surveillance Tables.

[ii] NAT, 2015. Boys who like Boys.

[iii] Combet, E. (2018) ‘HIV Scotland survey finds third of Scots teens think virus can be caught from toilet seatsThe Herald, 27 August 2018.

[iv] Weale, S. (2018) ‘Student poll finds 'significant gaps' in sex education in England’, The Guardian, 27 November.

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About NAT

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.

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