HIV Presentation and Activity

Dr. Ruy Ribiero
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Café Scientifique - Los Alamos


A presentation by Dr. Ruy Ribiero focused on the challenges of developing an HIV vaccine and the devastation that spread of the disease has had on humankind. A short and simple hands on activity demonstrated how easily the infection can spread when people are not thoughtful in their actions.

View his presentation: HIV-RuyRibiero.pdf

View the Hands On Activity:  transmission-of-hiv-and-the-immune-systemHIV_orphans


More on HIV

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It harms your immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection. This puts you at risk for serious infections and certain cancers. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.

This disease most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.

The first signs of the infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go within two to four weeks. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later.

A blood test can tell if you have the infection. Your health care provider can do the test, or you can use a home testing kit. Or to find free testing sites, call the national referral hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636 in English and en español; 1-888-232-6348 – TTY).

There is no cure, but there are many medicines that fight the infection and lower the risk of infecting others. People who get early treatment can live with the disease for a long time.

There are many ways you can protect yourself. The surest way is to abstain from sexual intercourse and from sharing needles and “works” if you use steroids, hormones, or other drugs.

Hands on Activity

The aim of the lesson is to provide information about how HIV is transmitted between people, and how HIV affects the immune system.

Target Audience: 11 – 14 years.

Curriculum areas: Physical Science, Biology, Life Orientation, Citizenship

Duration: 45 mins

Learning outcomes By the end of the lesson students will:

• Know the different ways that you can and cannot get HIV
• Discuss strategies to prevent the spread of HIV
• Understand how HIV affects the immune system

Additional notes on this lesson
For this lesson you will also need the following materials:
• 0.1 mol/l sodium hydroxide solutions (1 teaspoon of caustic soda to 1 litre of tap water)
• Phenolphthalein indicator solution (1 drop; you could use a medicine dropper) or litmus paper or any other indicator
• 1 x 200ml beaker glass or other small glass container like a bottle or cup per learner
• Tap water (Note: You can get caustic soda from your local supermarket – it is used as a sink cleaner and is very cheap.

Most school laboratories have phenolphthalein. It is commonly used to test levels of acidity and alkalinity) Before you start the lesson, prepare the solutions in each glass container for your class, with instructions as given below.

• Fill all containers, except one with water. They water should be 1/3 of each container.
• Fill one container with the caustic soda solution. This container should also be 1/3 full.