Affirming Persons -- Saving Lives, Summary of Issues

Affirming Persons -- Saving Lives, Summary of Issues

Summary of the issue

Affirming Persons-Saving Lives...

  • is the firstcomprehensive curriculum for AIDS prevention published for Christian churches. With lesson plans for every age—adults, teenagers and children—the curriculum is designed to help churches become learning centers to protect lives threatened by the AIDS epidemic. The curriculum is published by the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, the U.S. mission arm of the 1.6-million-member United Church of Christ.
  • is designed for use in Christian education settings with children, youth and adults. Sessions include Bible study, prayer and theological reflection. With two videos and 1,000 pages of lesson plans and fact sheets, the curriculum is a complete resource for AIDS education. Teachers using the curriculum will not need any special training.
  • addresses the root causes of the AIDScrisis—including ignorance about the causes of HIV infection and low self-esteem that often leads to life-threatening behavior. Centered in the assurance of God's love for every human being, the curriculum promotes the values of healthy self-esteem and respect for others. Affirming Persons-Saving Lives supports responsible choices by teaching practical decision-making and decision-keeping skills.
  • affirms abstinence—both from sexual intercourse and drug use—as the most effective means to prevent HIV transmission. Teenagers also learn that the use of alcohol and other drugs can impair their judgment and magnify their risk of exposure to the virus. The curriculum teaches the skills to say "no" effectively to unwanted drug use or sexual intercourse.
  • recognizes that not everyone will chooseabstinence. It therefore teaches adults and teenagers how to recognize behavior that increases the risk of HIV transmission. Students are warned not only against unprotected sexual intercourse but also against the use of injectable drugs, the sharing of needles by steroid users, ear piercing with unsterilized needles and bonding rituals that involve mingling blood.
  • includes sessions to help parents discuss AIDS effectively within their families. It urges parents to become knowledgeable about AIDS and to become partners in the education of their children. Parents and church school teachers are encouraged to preview the material and lesson plans together before the AIDS prevention program begins in their church.
  • lessons are carefully designed for each age group and provide information appropriate for that age. Young children, for example, learn they cannot "get AIDS" by playing with an HIV-positive classmate. Older children learn that sexual intercourse is a behavior appropriate only for adults.

Theological rationale

  • Affirming Persons-Saving Lives is rooted in biblical values of self-giving love, self-esteem and respect for others. The curriculum affirms that "[t]he Gospel of Christ calls us to respond to human need. The church is called to be a co-partner with God in promoting life in abundance, to support and minister to the sick, and to comfort the dying and those who are in grief. We must act in the face of potential suffering, particularly when to do so is most difficult."
  • "In breaking through barriers that restrain such Christianministry," the curriculum continues, "congregations can demonstrate an alternative response to a culture that, in many ways, devalues life, generates personal self-hatred and socialalienation, and encourages indifference and denial of the threat that HIV poses in every community. Among people who believe that repressing factual AIDS information and making the means to protection inaccessible will safeguard their children, AIDS-aware congregations can be beacons of hope, truth and genuine caring."

Description of lesson plans

  • The Adult Learning Series helps adults assess their own degree of risk for HIV infection, strengthens personal understanding of the Christian community as a place where serious issues can be discussed, uses the knowledge of adults whose lives are affected by HIV or AIDS, and challenges adults to commit themselves to AIDS ministry.
  • The Parents Learning Series encourages parents to talk with their children about HIV transmission and AIDS, teaches practical communication skills to help parents discuss AIDS with their families, and helps parents see themselves as partners in the experience of teaching and learning about AIDS in the setting of the church.
  • The Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Series nurtures children's self-esteem within the context of Christian values, provides basic hygiene information and offers a simple, age-appropriate introduction to the subject of AIDS. Children learn that God loves everyone, including healthy and sick people, and that illness is not a divine punishment.
  • The Grades 1 and 2 Learning Series nurtures children's self-esteem within the context of Christian values and provides age-appropriate information about HIV and AIDS. The series helps children understand that their bodies are a wonderful gift from God and should be treated with care and respect, that Jesus teaches them to be kind and loving to all people, and that they can make kind, safe and healthy choices in their own lives.
  • The Grades 3 and 4 Learning Series nurtures children's self-esteem within a context of Christian values rooted in faithful discipleship, teaches important facts about HIV and AIDS, strengthens their ability to think about the consequences of their choices and teaches how to refuse pressure to engage in behavior that may be harmful to them.
  • The Grades 5 and 6 Learning Series includes necessary information on human sexuality, teaches effective ways to say "no" to unsafe or risky behavior, ensures a basic understanding of sexual intercourse and other forms of HIVtransmission, stresses the importance of sexual abstinence, promotes the idea that sexual intercourse is an adult activity not appropriate for children, affirms that human beings have the freedom to make choices and teaches skills for making healthy decisions.
  • The Youth Learning Series for teenagers provides complete and factual information about HIV infection, transmission and infection, supports youth in making and keeping decisions informed by Christian values, and motivates youth to act with compassion and understanding towards persons living with HIV or AIDS. The series promotes healthy self-esteem, affirms abstinence, and underscores the value of intimacy and commitment in human relationships. Students learn how to say "no" to behaviors that transmit HIV, including unprotected sex and drug use.
  • The Intergenerational Learning Series is designed for all generations in the church family. It gives children, youth and adults an opportunity to learn from each other and to share activities that build an awareness in the congregation that all ages can benefit from AIDS education.
  • The curriculum includes handouts for students and acomprehensive package of Teacher Support Resources. The teacher's resources include a history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a guide to public speaking about AIDS education, a summary of the latest scientific research, a description of the pathology of HIV in the immune system, information about HIV antibody testing and statistics about sexual behavior among high school students.

How to Order

To order the curriculum click HERE, or call UCC Resources at 800-537-3394.

For more information contact:

Email:, Phone: 216-736-3217

Reporters and editors, please e-mail or call Ben Guess at the United Church of Christ News Office, 216-736-2180.




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Contact Info

Michael Schuenemeyer
Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115