Schools minister Nick Gibb says lack of HIV education is ‘unforgivable’

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Schools minister Nick Gibb says the government is “hugely concerned” about figures which suggest one in four children is not learning about HIV and AIDS at school.

Addressing a Lords committee on HIV and AIDS on Tuesday, he said a lack of knowledge in the school system was “unforgivable”.

Schools are required to teach pupils about the disease but evidence suggests some are not doing so.

Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) will not be include in the government’s review of the national curriculum. Instead, a separate review of the subject will take place.

Mr Gibb insisted that the PSHE review would not be sidelined.

He said: “It is a concern to the government that there are 83,000 people with HIV/Aids, of whom 4,200 are young people.

“It’s a huge concern that the sex education forum reported that one in four children are not being taught about HIV/Aids in schools.”

He added: “When we have a survey which shows that one in four children are not being told, or taught, about HIV, which is a deadly disease that can be simply avoided and simply caught, a lack of knowledge in this area is unforgivable in our school system.”

Deborah Jack, the chief executive National AIDS Trust, said: “Sex education in schools – which includes being taught about HIV and same-sex relationships – is something we’ve long been campaigning for, so it’s encouraging to see this being taken seriously by the schools minister.

“Our recent research into public knowledge and attitudes to HIV showed real gaps in knowledge around HIV transmission and 16-24-year-olds were one of the least knowledgeable groups – but positively over half of this age group said they were interested in learning more about the realities of HIV in the UK today.

“It is crucial that young people grow up fully understanding the facts around HIV transmission so they can protect themselves, and this will in turn help lift the confusion around HIV which continues to breed myths and misconceptions and fuel stigma.”