1. With a partner write the word "AIDS" on a sheet of paper and add as many words that belong to this topic as you can think of. Then arrange the words in categories. If you don't know the correct English word, refer to a dictionary for help.
  2. Swap sheets with another group. Take three minutes to read it through. Then take back your original sheet and spend one minute adding any terms that the other group might have found.
  3. Get information about AIDS by clicking here.
  4. At that page you see the AIDS ribbon which has become an international symbol of solidarity with AIDS/HIV sufferers. Speculate about why it was chosen for this purpose!


You are going to listen to an extract from an interview. Cindy Gibson, an American teenager, talks openly about the fears she has had since she discovered that she has AIDS. Cindy has actually suffered from sickle-cell anemia since birth and she contracted AIDS when she was given a blood transfusion to stop complications from this disease.

The reporter asks the following questions. Take down notes about the answers! Make clear you know the meaning of the new vocabulary.

full-blown = fully-developed
middle school (US) = school between elementary and high school
She was like ... = here: Her reaction was ...
smoothly = carefully, without drawing too much attention to the problem
to date s.o. = to go out with s.o. as part of a couple
tension = state of being very worried and nervous
to yell = to shout
punching bag = heavy, filled bag, which is hung on a rope and used for training boxers
to handle = to deal with
burden = here: an unwanted responsibility
to act up = to behave badly
ed = short for education
approximately = about
to hug s.o. = to take s.o. into one's arms
gay = homosexual
to breastfeed = to give a baby mother's milk
  1. When did you find out that you were HIV-positive?
  2. Why were you trying to keep it a sectret?
  3. How were you doing up until the time that you went public with this?
  4. What has changed since the letter?
  5. What do you think people need to know about people who have AIDS?


Exploring the text 1. Which of the adjectives below best describe Cindy's attitude towards her life and her illness(es)? Check any words you do not understand in your dictionary.

afraid - aggressive - brave - buoyant - confident - cynical - defeatist - defiant - dejected- desperate - disconsolate - happy - hopeless - nervous - optimistic - panicky - pessimistic - resigned - sad - starry-eyed

2. How was Cindy's family life affected by having to keep her infection with AIDS a secret?

3. Explain what happened with Cindy's boyfriend. How does she feel about this now?

Close-up: indirect speech Put the direct speech into indirect speech, starting with: "Cindy's parents said..." and "her teachers said...".

"Cindy has AIDS, and you have the choice if you want to be her teacher or not. If you don't, that's fine; we hold no bad feelings against you."

A step further 1. In groups of three or four, create a page in a teen magazine for International AIDS Day. Your aim is to raise readers' awareness of the problems experienced by AIDS sufferers and their families. Then present your poster to the rest of the class. The class can vote on the best page. 

2. Now you know about AIDS, can you talk about it in English, too? Give a one-minute talk on the topic. Then one of your classmates takes over for a minute, trying not to repeat what you have already said.