Knowledge of HIV/AIDS among Nurses in Southwestern Nigeria

Article excerpt

Abstract: The study was conducted to find out how much this group of nurses from south-western Nigeria knew about the HIV/AIDS phenomenon. A survey questionnaire was distributed to two population convenient samples of nurses; one group at a universitv teaching hospital, and the other at a post-basic institution of higher learning. The respondents stated that many of them knew quite a bit about HIV/AIDS, but only a few affirmed that they were taught informal classroom setting. Many of the nurses were able to identify the HIV ax the culprit in causing the infection that leads to AIDS. The sources of information about HIV/AIDS vary. The nurses attributed the spread of HIV/AIDS to promiscuous teenage girls predominantly, as well as older men due to infidelity. Many of the nurses stated that sex education should be given to children as young as five years old, and as old as over sixteen years of age. It is recommended that curricular infusion should be done to incorporate HIV/AIDS education in the nursing schools in south-western Nigeria.

Key Words: Nursing, HIV/AIDS, Southwestern Nigeria

Fenton (1994) states that "the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a dobal phenomenon with social, economic, and ethical triplications for future generations" (p .269). It is also known that available education programs that provide the facts related to the progression, treatment, and prevention of the disease are not effectively preparing nurses to care for people living with AIDS (PLWA) (vanServellen, Lewis, & Leake, 1998: Wert/., Sorenson, liebling, Kessler, & Heeren, 1987; Young 1989).

There has, also, been a great deal of concern expressed about the attitudes of health care professionals, nurses in particular, towards patients with HIV/AIDS and the professionals' knowledge about the disease (Mueller, Cerny, Amundson, & Waldron,1992). In Africa, especially Nigeria, there is a great deal of concern being voiced regarding the knowledge of nurses about HIV/AIDS.

THE PROBLEM

Cline and Engel (1991) declare that public health officials, policy makers, and educators are seeking ways to influence the public's knowledge, attitudes, and behavior to prevent the spread of HIV epidemic. Currently, Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa "has one of the largest HIV/ AIDS, with more than 3.5 million people living with HIV" (http:/www.globalfundatm.org/proposals/roundl/fsheets/ Nigeria.httml retrieved 11/26/2003). Other studies have shown that about 5,000 Africans are infected with HIV daily. The highest number of HIV infections occurs in the urban areas of central, eastern, and southern Africa. About half of all reported AIDS cases in Africa originate from East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi (Stine, 1996). In fact, Uganda has the highest rates of HIV infection in Africa south of the Sahara (MacNeil, 1996).

In the last decade, there was little information available about the prevalence of behaviors linked to HIV transmission in the developing world. Actually, little information was available about the extent of public's knowledge and perceptions of the risk behaviors associated with HlV transmission (Kanouse et al., 1991 ). Studies of knowledge and attitudes about HIV/AIDS have saturated the developed world (Young, 1988; vanSeervellen et al., 1988: Swanson, Chenitz, Zalar, & Stoll, 1990; Mueller, 1992; ArmstrongEsther & Hewitt,1984; Webb & Stevens,1994).

In Africa, however, especially in Nigeria, no published report about knowledge of HIV/AIDS among nurses was available. But published reports about knowledge of HIV/ AIDS among health care workers in the developed world has become abundantly available.

It has been recognized that dissemination of information and knowledge is the only means of checking the spread of HIV/AIDS. Educational institutions in the developed countries have established AIDS education research committees to educate their faculty and staff, as well as students (Carney, Barroway, Perkins, Pousson, & Whipple, 1991). …