What We Can Do: Motivate and Educate! Sample Activities for HIV/AIDS Awareness

The ideas listed below challenge everyone -- members of the community, 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.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified numerous programs that work -- HIV/AIDS-related programs that have been proven statistically to work. For information on HIV/AIDS-related programs, call CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) at (770) 488-3168. Information on DASH can be found at www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/.

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 fund-raising walk or run.
  • 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 a local book store to co-sponsor an event.
  • Ask Congress to increase HIV/AIDS funding.
  • 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 panels from 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 or make a donation to an AIDS program.

In the Classroom

The classroom provides numerous opportunities to educate students about HIV/AIDS.

  • 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 or a health practitioner who works with HIV 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 and relatives 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. [See "HIV/AIDS Education Videos."]
  • Distribute information on HIV testing and prevention. [See "Factsheets."]
  • Distribute "Myth Versus Reality" and "HIV/AIDS Quiz" from this book.
  • Create tabletop displays with World AIDS Day messages and place them in cafeterias and dining halls.
  • Write an article or letter to the editor of the school paper; include statistics about the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in your school or community.
  • Encourage students to work with younger students in local middle and elementary schools to challenge social norms that put them at risk for HIV.
  • Organize discussions about sensitive and taboo issues; develop materials to facilitate discussions.
  • Use cross-curriculum planning to incorporate HIV/AIDS materials into courses. * Show films or hold a film festival/discussion about films dealing with HIV/AIDS, such as the following:
    • Jeffrey (R)
    • The Cure (PG-13)
    • It's My Party (R)
    • Roommates (NR)
    • Fotos del Alma (NR)
    • Playing by Heart (R)
    • Longtime Companion (R)
    • Kids (R)
    • Boys on the Side (R)
    • Common Threads (NR)
    • Philadelphia (PG-13)
    • A Mother's Prayer (PG-13)
    • Love! Valour! Compassion! (R)
    • Bloodbrothers, The Joey DiPaolo Story (NR)
    • Silverlake Life: The View from Here (NR)

Colleges and Universities

There are many ways to be involved with HIV/AIDS programs on your college campus.

  • 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.
  • Coordinate with popular restaurants to give out free condoms; pass out literature focusing on the high correlation between HIV transmission and alcohol consumption.
  • Have free condoms available in bathrooms.
  • 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 in this booklet.]
  • Co-host seminars with medical and/or law schools.

At Work

At work, launch a Business Responds to AIDS program or a Labor Responds to AIDS program. [Contact CDC's National Prevention Information Network, (800) 458-5231, or the National AIDS Fund Workplace Resource Center, (202) 408-4848.]

  • Establish December 1 as a day to address issues of HIV/AIDS at your workplace.
  • Educate employees on the protection of people with HIV/AIDS and on non-discrimination laws.
  • Insert World AIDS Day messages with bills or paychecks and print on packaging materials..
  • Form a team to raise money for a local AIDS Walk.
  • Plan a training session on HIV/AIDS discrimination.

In Faith Communities

In your faith community, encourage a 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 20 times at 2:00 pm on December 1 to signify the 20 years of the epidemic. [For more details, contact the Council of Religious AIDS Networks at councilran@aol.com.]
  • Check the partial listing of national interfaith contacts in "Faith Communities and HIV/AIDS" 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.
  • Have your youth group volunteer at an HIV/AIDS program or clinic.
  • 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.

For more suggestions, see "HIV/AIDS Education Videos."

In Government

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.)
  • Hold meetings with district leaders to brief them on the World AIDS Day theme, I Care . . . Do You? Youth and AIDS in the 21st Century.
  • 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. For details, check the White House Office of National AIDS Policy's Web site www.whitehouse.gov/onap.
  • Prepare a press package describing World AIDS Day events locally and in your state.
  • Invite speakers to your State Capitol or City Building to speak on HIV/AIDS.
  • Advocate for local, state and national policies that promote the rights of all people who are living with, affected or orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

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 an HIV risk history.
  • Copy, display and distribute reading material and Fact Sheets about AIDS in the office regularly.
  • Offer routine HIV prevention counseling 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.
  • Design a specific area where patients can confidentially obtain condoms and information about HIV and other STDs.
  • Play an HIV/AIDS educational video in your waiting room.