10 Lessons About AIDS ‘A Different World’ Taught Us That Are Still True Today

different-world-cast-2In the ’80s and ’90s, Thursday night “must-see TV!” was entertaining and educational, especially A Different World. For a generation growing up, this show was an introduction to college life, political awareness and social responsibility. In the show’s fourth season, Debbie Allen directed a special episode, “If I Should Die Before I Wake,” that tackled AIDS head on.

Twenty-five years later, the episode is still relevant to today’s conversations about this disease.


Take a quick look back at some of the powerful lessons about HIV/AIDS this show put its spotlight on:

1. Friends don’t let friends have unprotected sex.

Girlfriends get all up in your business and real friends aren’t afraid to have real conversations. It’s cool to joke and laugh about the fun side of romance, but Jaleesa and Kim also let Whitley know that having sex and protecting her body is serious business.

a different world friends

“…a very important accessory for the evening – a condom.” – Jaleesa

2. Women carrying condoms isn’t taboo, it’s smart.

Back in the ’90s, a woman showing up with her own condoms still sent a certain ‘message’ and unfortunately, it wasn’t a good one. But what’s sexier than a woman who values herself and her health? Jaleesa was always on her grown woman and showed carrying protection is a woman’s responsibility, too.

condoms purse

“And you just happen to have one in your purse.” – Whitley

3. The real mood killer is getting (or giving) an STD. 

When is the right time to bring up putting on the condom, or as Whitley called it, “that contraption”? It’s not the most sexiest moment, but leave it to Kim Reese to school us on the reality of STDs.

the mood

“And shatter the mood?!” – Whitley