Introducing HIV and AIDS education into the first year of a problem-based learning curriculum: A template

  • M McLean
  • L Hiles
Keywords: community, health science education, HIV and AIDS, medical students, problem-based learning


The HIV and AIDS epidemic will continue to impact medically, socially and financially on sub-Saharan Africa. It is therefore imperative that health science students in Africa experience the reality of the impact of this virus on communities. This article describes an HIV and AIDS education programme instituted at a South African medical school in parallel with the first year of a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum. In line with the PBL philosophy, the HIV and AIDS programme was largely experiential. Students interacted directly with HIV positive individuals, and through their educational workshops, with local communities. By means of small group sessions facilitated by trained community educators, students explored myths surrounding HIV and AIDS and engaged frankly with colleagues about sensitive issues such as having an HIV-infected family member. Although expensive in terms of human resources, the outcomes of this intervention exceeded the organisers' expectations, particularly in terms of students openly engaging with the reality of being HIV positive and the community organisation networks established. This type of experiential intervention with considerable community exposure has application to other health science curricula.

Keywords: community; health science education; HIV and AIDS; medical students; problem-based learning

Health SA Gesondheid Vol. 10 (2) 2005: pp. 17-23

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848