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Teachers' Knowledge and Attitudes Toward HIV/AIDS Education

February 23, 2001

A study in the January issue of the Journal of School Health examines high school teachers' AIDS-related knowledge and attitudes.

Data was collected from 141 high school teachers from nine central Massachusetts high schools in February 1998. Respondents were asked to complete the HIV/AIDS Knowledge and Attitudes Scales for Teachers designed to measure knowledge and assess attitudes related to HIV/AIDS and prevention education. Teachers were also asked questions regarding their teaching experience and academic disciplines.

Respondents included teachers of allied health (both health and physical education teachers), humanities, industrial arts, math and science, special education, and other/unspecified fields. No school nurses, guidance counselors, or other school personnel participated in the study.


Overall Findings

Knowledge Scale

Attitude Scale

The study found that allied health teachers possessed a fairly good understanding of HIV/AIDS while teachers in other disciplines had significantly less knowledge. The authors note that health teachers are most likely responsible for formal HIV/AIDS education but that students may seek advice from a trusted teacher in another discipline. Although teachers in other disciplines stated that they could comfortably answer students' questions about HIV/AIDS, the data suggest that the accuracy of their responses may be questionable.

Teachers' attitudes toward HIV/AIDS were generally positive. Results indicated a direct relationship between teachers' knowledge of HIV/AIDS and positive or supportive attitudes toward HIV/AIDS. Female teachers hold more positive attitudes toward HIV/AIDS than did male teachers.

The study found nearly universal support for AIDS education, with almost all respondents stating they would support AIDS education at their school.

Finally, the authors note that most respondents believed prospective teachers should receive more specific training related to HIV/AIDS. The authors state that these results confirm a need for increased emphasis on teacher training both for pre-service and in-service educators.

For more information:

L. J. Dawson, et al., "The Role of Academic Discipline and Gender in High School Teachers' AIDS-Related Knowledge and Attitudes," Journal of School Health, 71(1), pp. 3-8.

See also "Resources."

This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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