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What We Can Do: Motivate & Educate!

December 1, 1999

The ideas listed below challenge teachers, HIV/AIDS educators and members of the faith, business and health communities to use their creativity to inform themselves and their peers about the AIDS epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified numerous "programs that work" -- HIV/AIDS-related curricula or products developed by some of CDC's funded national partners. For information on HIV/AIDS-related programs, call (770) 488-3168. CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) supports national, state and local organizations that have the capacity to help improve child and adolescent health. They also have demonstration centers and a network of national training centers that help teachers in every state provide effective HIV education within programs of comprehensive school health education programs. Information on DASH can be found at

In the Community

Work with state and local health departments to involve your community in HIV/AIDS awareness.


  • Develop workshops for parents on the role they play in shaping their children's behavior.

  • Organize community panels about sensitive and taboo issues and develop materials to help facilitate discussions in these settings.

  • Find out what social and cultural norms increase vulnerability to HIV in your community (e.g., social pressure for boys to have sex early).

  • Use the sample proclamation and officially declare World AIDS Day in your community.

  • Observe a "Day Without Art" to signify the loss of artists to AIDS and to increase awareness of AIDS.

  • Organize an HIV/AIDS fundraising walk.

  • Distribute HIV/AIDS Fact Sheets and red ribbons to the community to wear on World AIDS Day.

  • Hold a toy or food drive to help children affected by HIV/AIDS.

  • Contact your local book store to co-sponsor an event.

  • Ask your congressperson to increase HIV/AIDS funds.

  • Invite speakers to your state Capitol Building and decorate the building with red ribbons.

  • Decorate Christmas trees with red ribbons and tags with the names of community residents who have died of AIDS.

  • Organize musical performances and educational seminars for all age groups.

  • Contact The NAMES Project and bring The AIDS Memorial Quilt to your community [(415) 882-5500].

  • Set up a special display of books and resource materials about HIV/AIDS at your local library.

  • Volunteer at or make a donation to an AIDS program.

In the Classroom

  • Place a question box in classrooms where students can ask anonymous questions that will be answered by teachers at appropriate times.

  • Start a peer education program where students can educate other students about HIV/AIDS.

  • Invite a young adult with HIV/AIDS or a health practitioner who works with HIV/AIDS as a guest speaker.

  • Train young people as peer educators on life skills, sexual health, and AIDS education.

  • Encourage teachers to assign homework for children to interview their parents on the topic of HIV/AIDS.

  • Develop a pen-pal exchange for children and young people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in different cities and countries.

  • Show videos in which other teens talk about their personal experiences with HIV/AIDS. Some possible videos include:

    "In Our Own Words: Teens and AIDS" (Family Health Productions, 800-600-5779)

    "Teen AIDS: In Focus" (San Francisco Study Center, 888-281-3757)

    "AIDS Not Us" (HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, New York State Psychiatric Institute 212-543-5788)

    "Sex, Drugs, and HIV" (Select Media, 800-707-MEDIA)

    "Don't Forget Sherrie" (Call your local American Red Cross chapter.)

    "The Party" (Call your local American Red Cross chapter)

    "The Los Altos Story" (Call Dushan Angius, Rotary Club of Los Altos, 650-688-6964)

    Contact CDC's National Prevention Information Network at 800-458-5231 for a list of HIV/AIDS-related videos.

    You can also access the CDC's online searchable database at

    (Additional listings of movies/films/videos are available at Colleges and Universities.)

Colleges and Universities

At colleges and universities, work with university administrators, faculty, staff, and students.

  • Invite a local HIV testing center/clinic to your campus on December 1 or ask the campus student health center to test at no charge for the day. Contact the National Association of People with AIDS at (202) 898-0414.

  • Distribute information on HIV testing and prevention. (See Fact Sheets).

  • Copy and distribute Basic Facts about HIV/AIDS, and the HIV/AIDS Quiz, on World AIDS Day.

  • Create tabletop displays with World AIDS Day messages and place them in cafeterias and dining halls.

  • Coordinate with popular restaurants to give out free condoms; pass out literature focusing on the high correlation between HIV transmission and alcohol consumption.

  • Organize HIV/AIDS workshops with student educators in an informal setting such as a student center or residence hall lounge. Distribute information on HIV testing and prevention. (See Fact Sheets).

  • Write an article or letter to the editor of the school paper; include statistics about the prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS in your school or community.

  • Encourage university students to work with younger students in local middle and high schools to challenge social norms that put them at risk for HIV.

  • Organize discussions about sensitive and taboo issues and develop materials to help facilitate discussions.

  • Co-host seminars with medical and/or law schools.

  • Incorporate HIV/AIDS materials into courses.

  • Show films or hold a film festival and discussion about films that deal with HIV/AIDS, such as the following:

      "Kids" (R)
      "Jeffrey" (R)
      "And the Band Played On" (PG-13)
      "It's My Party" (R)
      "A Mother's Prayer" (PG-13)
      "Peter's Friends" (R)
      "Boys on the Side" (R)
      "Common Threads" (NR)
      "Philadelphia" (PG-13)
      "Longtime Companion" (R)
      "Wigstock" (R)

In Your Faith Community

In your faith community encourage long-term commitment to HIV/AIDS.

  • Present the Interfaith Declaration to your church council. Propose that your church community make a similar declaration.

  • Participate in or establish a collaboration with interfaith observances of World AIDS Day in your community.

  • Hold a candlelight service of remembrance for those affected by HIV/AIDS; contact your local AIDS ministry program and coordinate with them.

  • Join with other congregations and ring your steeple bell 19 times at 2:00 pm on December 1 to signify the 19 years of the epidemic. [For more details, contact the AIDS National Interfaith Network, (202) 842-0010.]

  • Check the partial listing of national interfaith contacts in Faith Communities & HIV/AIDS fact sheet for materials and ideas for collaborations.

  • Encourage your religious leaders to speak about HIV/AIDS in sermons, and invite an individual living with HIV/AIDS to share his or her story.

  • Observe a moment of silence during services for those who have died of AIDS.

  • Contact the national office of your religious affiliation or organization to ask for information regarding HIV/AIDS programs and policies.

  • Start an AIDS ministry within your congregation or with others in your community.

  • Start a service program:  Members of your congregation can work with a local AIDS group to provide meals, transportation, shelter, companionship or other services to people living with HIV/AIDS.

  • Ask associations of people living with HIV/AIDS to talk with young people about their experience with HIV.

Dim the Lights

Motivate others to join the White House in dimming building lights as a visual demonstration of a national commitment to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Traditionally, the White House dims its lights from 7:45 pm to 8:00 pm on December 1st.


Governments should participate in World AIDS Day. Effective HIV prevention programs can benefit from high-level political commitment.

  • Provide your community with statistics on HIV infection rates in your area, and use these numbers as a call to action. (Contact your health department. See State & Territorial Contacts)

  • Hold meetings with district leaders to brief them on the World AIDS Day theme, AIDS -- End the Silence. Listen, Learn, Live! Discuss how to work with children and young people.

  • Sponsor a World AIDS Day information session to discuss HIV prevention, education and treatment needs in your community. Personally invite student groups and various community organizations.

  • Develop policies that address unmet needs, especially those of traditionally underserved populations, including African-Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans, young people, men who have sex with men, injection drug users, rural communities, women, the homeless and the incarcerated.

  • Adopt a proclamation (see Sample Proclamation) urging citizens to take part in World AIDS Day activities and observances.

  • Encourage your communities to join the White House in dimming their lights as a visual demonstration expressing national and worldwide commitment to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

  • Prepare a press package describing World AIDS Day events locally and in your state, the US and the world.

  • Observe World AIDS Day by sponsoring a tree planting ceremony.

  • Advocate for local, state and national policies that promote the rights of all people, including young people, who are living with, affected or orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

  • Encourage youth groups to hold a workshop for government officials on the utility and effectiveness of youth participation.

  • Review current policies to ensure that they are youth-oriented and that they reduce children and young people's vulnerability to HIV by protecting their rights.

In Health Care Settings

In health care settings, the campaign against HIV/AIDS should continue not only on World AIDS Day, but throughout the entire year.

  • Organize training sessions with employees and health professionals on such topics as dealing with AIDS issues and communicating with patients.

  • Distribute free condoms to patients making office visits.

  • Develop a questionnaire for taking an HIV risk history.

  • Copy, display and distribute reading material and fact sheets about AIDS in the office on a regular basis.

  • Offer routine HIV prevention and free testing services on World AIDS Day.

  • Organize workshops and assemblies on HIV/AIDS at local schools to educate students and teachers.

  • Contact AIDS service organizations serving various ethnic and racial groups and ask that they make a presentation to your staff regarding cultural competence and sensitivity about HIV.

  • Mobilize the communication department in your institution to develop World AIDS Day messages to be distributed throughout the institution and surrounding communities.

  • Encourage local health centers to set aside special times to provide health services to young people.

  • Have trained peer counselors serve as links between young clients and health care personnel.

  • In existing clinics and schools, design a specific area where young people can confidentially obtain condoms and information about HIV and other STDs.

At Work

At work, launch a Business Responds to AIDS program or a Labor Responds to AIDS program. Obtain information from the CDC National Prevention Information Network, 800-458-5231, or other workplace material from the National AIDS Fund Workplace Resource Center, (202) 408-4848.

  • Ask your employer to establish December 1 as a day to address the issues of HIV/AIDS at your workplace.

  • Educate employees on the protection of people with HIV/AIDS and on non-discrimination laws.

  • Initiate a program to have World AIDS Day messages inserted in paycheck envelopes and printed on bags and packaging materials.

  • Form a team at your workplace to raise money and support for a local AIDS Walk.

  • Plan a training session or a brown bag lunch on HIV/AIDS discrimination, myths and stereotypes.

Important Skills in a World with HIV/AIDS

Learn to make sound decisions about relationships and sex and to stand up for those decisions.

Learn to deal with pressures for unwanted sex or drugs.

Learn to recognize a risky situation.

Learn how and where to ask for support.

Learn to negotiate for postponed or protected sex.

Learn to show compassion and solidarity toward people with HIV/AIDS.

Learn more about the needs of people with  AIDS and their families.

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This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication Be a Force for Change.