A bill codifying that educators must teach HIV/AIDS prevention won't be backed by the State Board of Education for fear it would open a can of worms.

The school board Friday took a position that HB72, sponsored by Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, is unnecessary.

HIV/AIDS education is in the state core curriculum, or blueprint for what must be taught in school. Lessons begin as early as fourth grade, State Associate Superintendent Christine Kearl said.

Some board members have been told some teachers are not fully teaching HIV/AIDS education. But they fear drawing more attention to a topic that, because it involves human sexuality discussion in high school, has been explosive on Capitol Hill.

"Though I'm supportive of the concept . . . and I don't want to deny what Rep. Moss wants to have done, I'm concerned that if this comes to the fore, (it's) going to open up the can of worms again," state board member Laurel Brown said.

Lawmakers in recent years have placed greater restrictions on what can be taught, and eliminated federal AIDS education funding out of concerns some human sexuality lessons got too racy and violated parents' rights.

Moss says she understands the board's reluctance, but is nevertheless disappointed.

About 14 HIV cases are reported among 13- to 24-year-olds every year, Utah Department of Health epidemiological data show. Moss fears some kids aren't getting the prevention message because some teachers are nervous about teaching the lessons to the full extent of the law.

"(The bill) would give teachers the security of having the law behind them when they teach about sexually transmitted disease, including HIV/AIDS," Moss said. "It's time that we addressed this area once again."


E-mail: [email protected]