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Ms. M's HS Biology Students Discuss Health Literacy

Well... It's taken me long enough. I'm sitting here recovering from wisdom teeth surgery, watching daytime TV, and enjoying summer break and so I think it's finally time that I get to sharing my students health literacy blog posts.

Health literacy is complicated! My college prep and honors classes tackled this complex topic during Health Literacy Week in October of 2020 (yeah, I know, it's been a minute). We discussed how to advocate for yourself and your health with medical professionals and adults in general, what your rights as a patient are, how to articulate symptoms and pain, what kind of privacy minors have from their parents/school/etc., and how to obtain trustworthy, readable, current information about complex health and medical topics. However, our main focus was on unequal access to information. My students recognized that marginalized communities of any and all kinds are at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining both health information and health care and that that is unjust and perpetuates cycles of hardship and prejudice. Although my students didn't have a solution for this (nor do I, nor does anyone I know, but I am all ears if you do, kind reader) they had some wise words to share and some poignant discussions with one another.

After completing these discussions and workshops, my students were tasked with the following...

Write a blog post that discusses how low rates of health literacy creates stigma and/or leads to increased spread of illness/mis- or under-diagnosis/etc.. You should address this question from two angles:

Epidemiology and disease/condition (mental or physical)

  • How did low HL contribute to spread, cover up, or stigmatization of the condition?

  • Exs. COVID-19, HIV, Syphilis, AIDS, alcoholism, cancers, etc.

  • You must also discuss the biology of the disease!!

  • What types of organisms does it impact (if any other than humans, make sure to include them as well)?

  • What type of condition is it? Bacterial? Viral? “Chemical”? Etc.

  • What parts of our body does it target? What cells are prevalent there?

  • What organelles are or are most likely to be affected by this disease?

  • Is this disease curable? Treatable?

  • Are there any notable historical events that are related to your topic?

  • What is the prognosis of this condition? What is the mortality rate, etc.?


  • What factors contribute to injustice and unequal access to information for some communities in the context of HL and in the context of your disease?

  • Think income, race, gender identity/sexuality, age, social or cultural factors, etc.

  • Has there been any progress since the outbreak/inception?

There work was awesome and many of them gave me the go ahead to share it with my blog, so that is exactly what I'm going to start doing! I think I will do 1-2 of their articles a day for about a week (thinking of it as a DIY Health Literacy Week because why not!).

I hope you enjoy reading their posts as much as I have!

Please keep in mind that (obviously) these are written by high schoolers. Not doctors, not health professionals, not experts. There may be some mistakes as they are relying on information they collected and sourced themselves from online. While they did an incredible job, no medical information presented in these articles should be taken as advice or diagnosis. If you are looking for information about any of these conditions, there are many resources you can turn to (,,, JHU Health Library). If you notice an error, please drop me a comment so I can make an edit to prevent the spread of misinformation :).

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