Academic journal article College Student Journal

Nigerian College Students: HIV Knowledge, Perceived Susceptibility for HIV and Sexual Behaviors

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Nigerian College Students: HIV Knowledge, Perceived Susceptibility for HIV and Sexual Behaviors

Article excerpt

This study examined HIV knowledge, perceived risk and sexual behavior of 370 undergraduate students in selected universities in southern Nigeria. MANOVA confirmed females to have significantly higher overall HIV knowledge than males ([p.bar] = .03). In addition, more females than males reported significantly higher knowledge on the risk of HIV transmission through oral sex (p = .001). Females scored higher on the erroneous belief that antibiotics protect a person from HIV ([p.bar] = .008). Females showed greater knowledge on the risk of needle sharing in steroid use ([p.bar] = .001). but less knowledge on the erroneous assumption that women are tested for HIV during their pap smear assessments (p = .004). T-test on sexual behavior risk confirmed that males engage in more risky behaviors ([p.bar] =.002) than females. T-test showed a significant gender difference with males reporting greater overall susceptibility for HIV than females ([p.bar] = .009).

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The Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV), has emerged as a global health problem with serious medical, economic and social implications. According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2000), an estimated 33.4 million people worldwide are infected with HIV. Of these, 22.5 million live in the sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 5.8 million people newly infected with HIV last year, 4 million are Africans. The United Nations estimates that two million Africans died of AIDS in the previous year: this number accounts for over 80% of the worldwide death toll (WHO, 2000). Within the West African sub-region the HIV prevalence rate ranges between 2% - 8%, with the exception of Cote d'Ivoire and Togo, reporting rates of 8% - 32%. Senegal, on the other hand, is below 3%. However, the likelihood of adults in sub-Sahara Africa becoming HIV infected is ten times greater than for an adult in North America and 20 times greater than an adult in Western Europe (WHO, 2000).

With a population of 113 million people, Nigeria is the most populous African nation. In Nigeria, the HIV epidemic is growing at an alarming rate, with sero-prevalence rates increasing from 0.9% in 1990 to 1.8% in 1992, 3.8% in 1994, 4.5% in 1996, and 5.4% in 1999 (Federal Ministry of Health, 1996). In specific subpopulations the rates are very significantly higher. For example, Esu-Williams et al (1997) reported that in 2,300 subjects from five states in Nigeria, HIV appears in over 60% of female commercial sex workers, 8% of male clients of commercial sex workers, 8% of blood donors, 9% of truck drivers, and 21% of STD patients. While the HIV epidemic may have been slower to impact Nigeria than many other African countries, these rates suggest that HIV prevalence is high and widely distributed in Nigerian society (Ezedinachi et al., 2002).

Because of their sexual behaviors, Nigerian youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years, like their counterparts in the West, are the most affected age group. Although the data may be a decade old, it is still disturbing to learn of a 10% prevalence rate among Nigerian youth ages 20-24 years (Makinwa, Adebusoye & Pauline, 1991). There is no reason to believe that the rate today is not significantly higher. Similarly, Olayele et al (1993) found the highest prevalence rate in their study sample among 20-29 year olds. Researchers estimate that by 2004 the number of HIV+ persons in Nigeria will reach 4.9 million. (National AIDS and STD Control Program, 1999; UNAIDS/WHO Working Group in Global HIV/AIDS and STD Surveillance, 1998). In the absence of extensive HIV sentinel studies, no one is sure of the accurate rate of HIV infection in Nigeria. At the current rate of transmission, the outlook is quite gloomy.

While many populations in Nigeria are at risk for HIV infection, college and university students, due to unsafe sexual behaviors, experimentation with alcohol and drugs, and failure to see themselves at risk for infection, are particularly vulnerable to this disease (Ubuane et al. …

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