Controlling The HIV Pandemic: A Public Health Focus

Overview of Activity

Just 25 years since it was first reported, HIV/AIDS has become one of the world's
greatest public health crises. More than 39 million people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, mostly in developing countries. In this exercise, students are asked to participate first-hand in the scientific process as they study one of the world's most pressing problems. Students will learn scientific inquiry as they examine source data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and analyze the state of the HIV pandemic in several hard-hit countries. Students will think critically about the public health measures that might be needed to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in different regions of the world.

Grade Level: 9 to 12

Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced

Activity Type: In Class Investigation and Analysis
URLs: Controlling the Pandemic (Teacher Pages)
Controlling the Pandemic (Student Pages)
All Answer Keys are based on 2005 Statistics:
Controlling the Pandemic: Armenia (Answer Key)
Controlling the Pandemic: Botswana (Answer Key)
Controlling the Pandemic: Cambodia (Answer Key)
Controlling the Pandemic: China (Answer Key)
Controlling the Pandemic: Costa Rica (Answer Key)
Controlling the Pandemic: India (Answer Key)
Controlling the Pandemic: Indonesia (Answer Key)
Controlling the Pandemic: Kenya (Answer Key)
Controlling the Pandemic: Graphs (Answer Key)

Grade Level: 9-12

Amount of Time Required for Activity: Two 40-minute class periods (80 min)

Recommended Uses:

Teachers may use this activity as a stand-alone unit or in conjunction with a field
trip to the Koshland Science Museum.

If a field trip is planned, this activity may be used to engage and encourage students
to think about how the HIV/AIDS pandemic impacts different countries prior to visiting
the exhibit; or it can be used after the visit to build on student understanding of how
HIV/AIDS affects different countries.This is the most effective way to use this activity
since students will have seen the videos and learned about infectious diseases and

To gain an overview of the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, students begin by viewing the "Controlling the HIV Pandemic" video on the Koshland Science Museum's website.
The video, part of the Koshland's exhibit, Infectious Diseases: Evolving Challenges to
Human Health, presents a compelling view of the epidemic's devastating effects around
the world, public health efforts to combat the disease, and the challenges involved in
developing an HIV/AIDS vaccine. Students will get a thorough overview of the unique
problems each of several countries faces in dealing with the pandemic.

After viewing the video, students should be divided into groups. Each group will be
assigned a country and will analyze its source data from the WHO on the HIV pandemic.
Source data is available for Armenia, Botswana, Cambodia, Costa Rica, China, India,
Indonesia, or Kenya. Students will calculate different epidemiological statistics that
they will use to compare the state of the epidemic in these nations. They also will use
the data to plot graphs and will examine research on steps that have been taken to
control the disease.

The activity ends with students participating in a comparative analysis of the data
as they share their results with other groups in the class. Data from the United
States also can be used as a reference point to make connections among these

Ultimately, students will have developed a broad understanding of how infectious
diseases can be controlled in different regions of the world given certain socio-political
and economic realities, while building connections with the science behind the

This activity is designed by the Koshland Science Museum to accompany the HIV

Relation to the Science Standards (High School)

  • Content Standard A - All students should develop abilities necessary to do
    scientific inquiry
  • Content Standard C - All students should develop an understanding of
    biological evolution and behavior of organisms
  • Content Standard E - All students should develop understandings about
    science and technology
  • Content Standard F - All students should develop understanding of personal
    and community health, environmental quality, science and technology in local,
    national, and global challenges, and natural and human-induced hazards
  • Content Standard G - All students should develop understanding of nature
    of scientific knowledge, historical perspectives, and science as a human

Related Part of the Exhibit
Antiretrovirals and the HIV Pandemic
Vaccines and Human Immunity
Global Distribution of Disease
Tracing Emerging Diseases
Public Health

Additional Related Links
Tanzania Implements HIV Prevention Measures as World Marks AIDS Day-
NewsHour, November 30, 2007
In Rwanda , U.S.-backed program Improves Access to AIDS Drugs - NewsHour,
November 14, 2007
Government of Thailand Battles AIDS Epidemic - NewsHour, June 12, 2007
South Africa Steps Up Fight Against AIDS - NewsHour, February 1, 2007
AIDS in Africa - In Depth Report - NewsHour