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Grades 9-12
This lesson focuses on why the disastrous numbers surrounding the AIDS epidemic in Africa exist. It asks students to explore what is being done, and what can be done, to ease the situation.

(If possible, complete the companion lesson, AIDS in Africa I: The Scope of the Problem , prior to starting this lesson. Lesson I provides the statistics and facts of the epidemic, while this lesson considers why the epidemic exists and what is being done, and could be done, to ease the situation. If Lesson I is not used, give students copies of the relevant data, found on the following pages at the Washington Post Web site: AIDS in Numbers and AIDS in Numbers II . Students will also need to research and/or review data regarding the death rates of people from AIDS in Africa and the United States, at a site such as .)

[NOTE: Many of the news articles in this lesson (those from the Washington Post and New York Times) require online registration to view. You may wish to register for these sites before class begins so you can log on for students without their having to reveal personal information.]

Connections to the Curriculum:
Geography, biology, history, government
Connections to the National Geography Standards:
Standard 1: "How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective"
Standard 3: "How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface"
Standard 4: "The physical and human characteristics of places"
Standard 10: "The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics"
Standard 18: "How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future"
Two to three hours

Materials Required:
  • Computers with Internet access (or copies of relevant data from Web sites listed in this lesson)
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Flip chart or chalkboard
  • Felt Marker or chalk
Students will
  • identify cultural factors within Africa that underlie the scope of the AIDS epidemic there;
  • discuss worldwide responses to the crisis in Africa;
  • list evidence of attitudes and excuses in the world that explain these responses; and
  • determine what could be done within Africa and in the outside world to ease the AIDS crisis in Africa.
Geographic Skills:
Asking Geographic Questions
Acquiring Geographic Information
Organizing Geographic Information
Answering Geographic Questions
Analyzing Geographic Information

S u g g e s t e d   P r o c e d u r e
Ask students to summarize the situation in Africa from data found in the Lesson I documents (see Overview). Emphasize the great disparity between the impact of AIDS on African and U.S. populations. Ask students to share their emotional and practical reactions to the data they have uncovered.
Using the charts and graphs from Lesson I and other articles from the Washington Post Web site and other online sources, find sociological or cultural reasons to explain the greater number of infections and deaths among Africans than among those who live in the United States.

What is already being done to address these realities? For example, see the National Geographic News story about the book A Day in the Life of Africa and "The World Health Report 2004," published by the World Health Organization (WHO) .

Ask students to research what the impact of the development of anti-retroviral drugs has been on the AIDS death rate in the United States? In Africa? Why the difference?

Have students read the Washington Post article, Long-Sought HIV Drug Saving Thousands of S. African Babies . Ask them to discuss in pairs, groups, or as a class, what forces made the heartening statistics found there possible. Still, why were authorities in South Africa so restrained in their excitement over so many babies being saved?

Give students the list of Web sites listed below under "Related Sites," and ask individuals or small groups to read one article each. If they prefer, they can select a different relevant article they have found in their online search. Have students summarize and lead a class discussion about the articles. Based on information shared in earlier discussions, ask students to suggest reasons why the world does not respond with more concern to the plight of Africans.
Suggested Student Assessment:
Using a flip chart or chalkboard, have students work as a committee to suggest and justify three worldwide goals and three goals within Africa to address the crisis. If the class is large, this can be achieved in small groups.
Extending the Lesson:
Have students do further Internet research to expand on their knowledge of the causes of the crisis, as well as current and proposed responses to it.
Related Links: