HIV/AIDS Curriculum Overview

The New York City Department of Education's Office of School Wellness Programs (OSWP) has released an updated edition of the HIV/AIDS Curriculum.  

The HIV/AIDS Curriculum, 2012 Edition, is an update to the 2005 edition of the HIV/AIDS Curriculum and was completed in collaboration with experts from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH).  The curriculum is a K-12 instructional guide designed to meet the New York State Education Department's and New York City Department of Education's mandates for instruction.  The 2012 edition of the curriculum provides teachers with up-to-date information about HIV and AIDS in New York City.

Effective September 2015, the New York City Department of Education permits high schools to provide health instruction that includes classroom condom demonstrations in order to equip students with the medically accurate information they need to stay healthy and avoid high-risk behaviors. Click here to access the Chancellor’s memo explaining this policy.

All students in New York State are required to receive HIV/AIDS instruction every year.  In grades K-6, students are required to receive five lessons each year.  In grades 7-12, students are required to receive six lessons each year.

To view the entire HIV/AIDS Curriculum, 2012 Edition, click here.

What has been updated in the HIV/AIDS Curriculum, 2012 Edition?
The 2012 update focuses on medical, technical, and legal changes in HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.  Information and resources have been updated and these changes are reflected throughout the curriculum, including in the lessons.  However, the structure and content of these lessons has largely been kept the same.  Updates including information about:

For more details about these updates, click here.

Teachers who have already taught the HIV/AIDS lessons in the 2012-13 school year need to not repeat the lessons they taught.  However, they are encouraged to inform students of any important changes that appear in lessons that have already taught.  Please contact with any questions.

Why are HIV/AIDS lessons required for every student, every year?
HIV continues to be a problem for New York City.  More than 110,000 New Yorkers are infected with HIV.  The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that half of the all new infections are acquired before age 25.  We know from the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey ( that almost 40 percent of our high school students engage in behaviors that put them at risk for acquiring HIV.  We also know that researchers have made great strides in understanding the disease, and in developing new ways to prevent and treat it.

How do lessons help students to stay healthy?
The updated HIV/AIDS curriculum provides age and developmentally appropriate lessons to help children and adolescents understand the nature of HIV/AIDS, methods of transmission and prevention, and ways to support friends or loved ones who may be living with HIV/AIDS.  Lessons use strategies that reinforce the importance of communicating with parents/guardians, teachers, and other caring and appropriate adults in their lives.  Interactive activities foster communication skills, assertivness, planning and goal setting, decision making, and setting limits.  

How are teachers prepared to handle these sensitive and important health topics?
The Office of School Wellness Programs provides free professional development for teachers on comprehensive health education and HIV/AIDS education.  A full list of currently available trainings is on ProTraxx, including a new HIV/AIDS refresher course for those who have already attended HIV/AIDS 101 prior to fall 2012.  If teachers have never completed a training, they may take grades K-5 or 6-12 HIV/AIDS 101.

Schools may also schedule an "At Your School" training for 15 or more teachers by filling out this form.  Principals are responsible for assuring that a minimum of five HIV/AIDS lessons are taught every year to every student in in grades K-6, and six lessons every year to every student in grades 7-12.  Principals and teachers may request a free hard copy of the HIV/AIDS Curriculum, 2012 Edition, by filling out this form.

How can parents/guardians learn more about the HIV/AIDS lessons?
We encourage parents and guardians to review the HIV/AIDS Curriculum, 2012 Edition, and to communicate any questions, comments, or concerns to  your school staff.  As with all health and education topics, it is important to understand what your child is learning in school and to support her/him in making healthy decisions.  All children are required by New York State regulations to receive lessons on the nature of HIV/AIDS and methods of HIV transmission.  Parents and guardians have the right to opt their children out of the individual lessons on methods of prevention identified as "opt out" prevention lessons.  You must send a letter to your child's principal requesting that your child be removed from the classroom when prevention lessons are given.  Your letter must state that you will provide your own prevention lessons as home.  You are welcome to request curriculum materials to help you do so. 

For more information, please click here to view the parent brochure that is available in 9 languages.

Sample letters notifying parents about HIV/AIDS education are available in 9 languages located here.


Grades K-3: General basics of disease prevention: washing hands, covering mouth when sneezing or coughing, and cleaning and bandaging cuts.  Children learn not to touch other people's blood, and to ask adults to help when someone is bleeding.  They learn that HIV is a bloodborne virus that impairs the immune system.  They also learn to develop empathy for children and adults who are living with HIV/AIDS. 

Grades 4-5: Lessons focus on how the immune system works and how HIV is transmitted.  Activities focus on how to resist negative peer pressure and "choose companions who share your beliefs, values, and interests."  Students are told to stay away from alcohol and other drugs, and never to share needles or other sharp objects that can transmit blood from one person to another.  Abstinence from sexual contact is stressed.

Grades 6-12: Some lessons include information on HIV testing and address methods of prevention, including the correct and consistent use of condoms, which can greatly reduce the risk of infection from people who are sexually active.