Heidi A. Everett-Cacopardo
The science, technology, and society component of the curriculum is a focal point around which this unit revolves. The unit is based on human population growth and the factors that shape the population pyramids of developed and underdeveloped nations. I choose AIDS as the infectious disease to investigate throughout the unit due to its prevalence in both developed and underdeveloped countries and the horrific role it is playing in reshaping the demographics of many countries.
It is my opinion that the generation that I currently teach does not have an appropriate fear of HIV. I believe that there is a false sense of security due to the increased life span of people infected with HIV because of advancements in treatments. I have witnessed first hand student discussions that indicate that many of my students are ignorant of the risks associated with their sexual activities, some do not believe that HIV is in their communities, and many believe that they have never met anyone with HIV. I hope that that the second part of my unit will serve to awaken my students to the realities of HIV/AIDS cases in their own communities, nation, and the world at large. I hope to instill an appropriate awareness of the damaging effect of HIV/AIDS on the health of human populations around the world.
Unfortunately, some countries who have large numbers of people infected with HIV are not recognizing HIV, as a deadly infectious disease slowly wiping out large portions of their populations. Certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa face the loss of the important generational knowledge concerning sustainable farming practices with the death of the family member who is unable to pass on their knowledge to their young children. In addition, a portion of the populations that is highly educated government officials, teachers, military leaders, and bankers are dying from HIV/AIDS (Garrett, 2005). These educated individuals are important contributors to the stability of a country and with their loss comes the erosion of the progress that certain developing countries have made toward better quality of life through economic growth.
The slow demise of the immune system caused by HIV allows opportunistic infections like TB to be listed as the cause of death. This ambiguity allows some countries to remain in a state of denial that large segments of their populations are dying from HIV/AIDS (Garrett, 2005). The stigma associated with the disease has lead to some countries to shroud the numbers of their population infected with HIV and dying from AIDS. China for example chooses not to disclose the actual incidence and prevalence of the disease in their population. HIV infected individuals do not die quickly and the antiretroviral drugs available to those with the financial resources are prolonging the life of many HIV positive individuals making it appear that HIV is not present in the population. It is easy to overlook the damage that HIV infections are taking on populations around the world. I intend to highlight the differences in resources regarding healthcare and biotechnology for developed versus underdeveloped countries and how these resources could be testament of the advancements of science and technology working together for the common goal of public health, if they were made available worldwide.
The students I teach are a mix of health science and business majors. I always try to incorporate the business aspect of science because business and science go hand in hand in providing funding for research and the development of new biotechnologies. Analyzing data and depicting data appropriately are skills used by both scientists and businesspersons. Many students believe science is devoid of “business practices.” I want to make the students aware that science and business are involved together in major way, as in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry and its role in the battle against AIDS. The students should also understand that these companies require an educated work force and an economy that can provide monies.