Question of the Week

November 25, 2002


"Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on World AIDS Day, 1 December. The worldwide HIV epidemic has created a terrible burden for millions of individuals, families and communities around the world....But there is another terrible burden imposed by AIDS, which each and every one of us has the capacity to relieve: the burden of HIV-related stigma. The impact of stigma can be as detrimental as the virus itself....The fear of stigma leads to silence, and when it comes to fighting AIDS, silence is death....It can cause people - whether a mother breastfeeding her child or a sexual partner reluctant to disclose their HIV status - to risk transmitting HIV rather than attract suspicion that they might be infected. But the walls of stigma and silence are weakening. There is evidence of progress on every continent...."

But none of my friends have HIV.
But no one in my school has HIV.
But no one in my town (or part of town) has HIV.
No one? How would you know? If people you knew had HIV/AIDS, would they feel comfortable sharing that information with you, or would they be afraid of what you might think, say, or do?
Would you want to know?
Where could you find some reputable base information about HIV/AIDS?

Questions of the Week:
Why is there more of a stigma associated with HIV/AIDS than with other contagious diseases? What could this generation do to help the next generation have more of a rational understanding of the disease and less fear of the people who carry it?

Next week:
The question of the week will be on vacation.
Please use next week for a brainstorming session. What health topics would your students like to see discussed more (by teachers, by the media, by their peers? Why? Please email your results to me at:

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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