Murphy, Sara, E
Nursing, College of
HIV/AIDS; HIV Education; Rhode Island; High School
HIV infection in Rhode Island is trending in a positive, downward direction as the state continues to emphasize testing and prevention. The Miriam Hospital’s HIV/AIDS Immunology Center is a well-established caregiving facility, providing medical and social support to more than 1,500 Rhode Islanders annually. Despite this progress, there are educational gaps between school districts and an apparent lack of emphasis on HIV education in some RI public high schools. I created a documentary film to better understand the state’s health education standards and how they are presented in curricula. In doing so, I conducted a series of short, on-camera interviews with subjects working in government, health care, education, and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, I interviewed a number of recently-graduated RI high schoolers who could recall the quality of their HIV education. In creating and editing the documentary, I learned about the proper planning, formatting, and technical presentation of film.
Through this endeavor, I discovered that the Rhode Island Department of Education puts forth a serious effort toward creating health education standards but that these standards are not always upheld well in the curriculum of individual schools. Avert, an international HIV/AIDS organization specializing in education, indicates that the percentage of U.S. schools in which HIV prophylaxis education is required has decreased from 64 percent in 2000 to 41 percent in 2014 (https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/western-central-europe-north-america/usa). Young people (aged 13-24) are accounting for more than 20 percent of new cases each year (https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/western-central-europe-north-america/usa). It stands to reason that the education of American youth on the topics of HIV transmission, prevention, and history are imperative for reducing infection and creating individuals who are more proactive about their sexual health. I gained an understanding of where this state excels or fails in regard to teaching HIV and protecting its youth as they transition into adulthood.