STD/HIV Handshake Print

A Lesson Plan from Life Planning Education: A Youth Development Program

Purpose: To increase awareness of how quickly HIV and other STDs can be spread

Materials: Prepared index cards, enough for each group member; board and chalk or newspaper and markers; the Leader's Resources, “Information on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs),"(pdf) “HIV Infection and AIDS Information" (pdf) and “Tips for Teaching About HIV Infection and AlDS” (pdf).

Time: 30 minutes

Planning Notes:

  • Read the Leader's Resources,“Information on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs),"(pdf) “HIV Infection and AIDS Information" (pdf) and “Tips for Teaching About HIV Infection and AlDS” (pdf).
  • Be sure you know the telephone number for your community's STD hotline or a local clinic that provides services for teens. Share that number with the group after the activity is completed.
  • Prepare the cards by marking three cards with the message, “After you read this, don't follow any of my directions until I say return to your seats.”; three cards with a small “c”;  one card with a small “o”;  one card with a small “z” and one card with a small “x.” You may wish to put a message like “Follow all my directions.”  on the rest of the cards, induding the c, o, z, and x cards.


  1. Distribute one index card each to the teens. Tell them to keep the special instructions on their cards a secret and to follow the instructions. Ask the group to stand and shake hands with three people and ask each to sign the card. Make sure they move around the room.
  2. When all the teens have collected three signatures, have them take their seats. Ask the people with the O, Z, and X. on their cards to stand up. Ask everyone who shook hands with those persons to stand up. Ask everyone who shook hands with a standing person to stand up. And so on until everyone is standing, except for designated non participators.
  3. Now tell the group to pretend that the person with the card marked Z  was infected with HIV, and that instead of shaking hands that person, had unprotected sexual intercourse with the three people whose signatures she or he collected. Do the same with the card marked O (chlamydia) and the card marked X (genital herpes).
  4. Have the teens sit down again, and ask those with the “Do not follow my directions” cards to stand. Explain that these people had chosen to abstain from sexual intercourse, and were therefore protected from these sexually transmitted diseases.
  5. Ask teens to dhedk if they had a C marked on their card and invite them to stand. Explain that fortunately, these people had used condoms and were not at significant risk for infection. Allow all teens to sit down. Remind the group that this was only a game, that they were only representing people who have STDs and that STDs are not transmitted through handshaking.
  6. Explain that STDs are diseases that are spread by close sexual contact between two partners. Any form of intercourse—oral, anal or vaginal—can spread STDs. Using the Leader's Resource, “Information on Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” provide brief descriptions of chlamydia, HIV and genital herpes.
  7. Post the telephone number for the STD hotline or HIV clinic
  8. Conclude the activity using the Discussion Points.

Discussion Points:

  1. How did person X feel? Person Z? Person O? How did you feel towards X, Z, and O when you found out they were infected?
  2. What were the initial feelings of those of who were instructed to not participate in the exercise? How did those feelings change during the course of the exercise? How did the group feel towards those people initially? And then later?
  3. How did the people who discovered they had used condoms feel?
  4. How did it feel to find out that you might have been infected?
  5. The teens with the X, O, and Z cards didn't know that they were infected when we started this activity. In reality, many people don't know they are infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Is it possible to know ahead of time who is infected and who is not?


a youth-driven communityworking for change
Apoyo para Jóvenes GLBTQ
for Spanish-speaking GLBTQ youth
by and for young women of color
by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth
a grassroots movement to start a new conversation about abortion
2000 M Street NW, Suite 750  |  Washington, DC 20036  |  P: 202.419.3420  |  F: 202.419.1448
COPYRIGHT © 2008 Advocates for Youth. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  |  Contact Us   |  Donate   |  Terms of Use   |  Search