“I can’t believe I’m HIV positive!”
“Who’s ever known someone who got a really scary diagnosis – cancer, heart disease or something?” About 3/4 of the class said yes. So, what if a friend was diagnosed HIV positive at 20? Imagine you’re at college, in your own place. You are having a GREAT time, lots of friends, maybe with a partner… then your friend gets a ‘flu-ey, cold-ey thing and go to the doc when the cough won’t clear up. The doctor asks if they’ve been tested for HIV, just as a matter of course. The results accidentally are sent back direct to them, with an HIV+ result. Usually, you’d get some counseling but not this time.
Kids brainstormed what their most urgent questions would be. Then we considered why finding reliable information would be basically life-and-death in this scenario. I actually know someone who died of AIDS related brain tumor as she tried untested alternative HIV remedies. At 20 years old :-(.
Searching for answers:
Then they rushed on to the internet to start finding answers
My 7th graders continue to have problems figuring out search terms – most write the whole question “What’s my future with HIV?” instead of being able to distil HIV + symptoms or HIV + prognosis, so it’s a skill I should teach them. Duh, this late in the school year to be figuring that out…
Finding reliable, readable and relevant information on the internet:
And then, I so can’t believe this, after two major PowerPoint research projects this year, they STILL don’t instantly get how to detect who sponsored the website. But by stopping a few minutes early, they ‘got on the phone’ to each other, like you’d do with say, a breast cancer diagnosis, and shared what they had each found. So one group had found ‘Gilead’ sponsored a site and used it, and another group had found that they were a pharmaceutical company. HealthMD is a pharmaceutical industry sponsored. Both have good info but with a bias. Other kids had found CDC and Avert – a non-profit for HIV/AIDS patients. “Patient information” on medical sites give info at about a 6th grade reading level usually. .
I purposely did NOT set them up with those good sites ahead of time. This is really hard for a control freak such as myself. I so over do things and it annoys my colleagues, and don’t even talk about my son 🙂 Must back off and let people discover stuff for themselves! So much more fun that way, and more memorable. Like planning a party so that everyone is set up for a great time but they don’t know how it happened and who was responsible.