Adolescents HIV Risk Perception and Sexual Behaviour in Lagos Metropolis, Nigeria

By Wusu, Onipede | Ife Psychologia, September 2011 | Go to article overview

Adolescents HIV Risk Perception and Sexual Behaviour in Lagos Metropolis, Nigeria


Wusu, Onipede, Ife Psychologia


Abstract

Previous studies on the association between HIV risk perception and sexual behaviour limited classification of risk perception to low and high, and their findings are largely mixed. This study seeks to contribute to knowledge on this association through the inclusion of the reasons why respondents indicate certain risk perceptions in the analysis. Data were generated through a survey conducted among adolescent boys and girls in Lagos Metropolis between December, 2009 and February, 2010. Bivariate and multivariate analyses reveal that at least 70% of both girls and boys perceived that they were at low risk of HIV. Majority of those who perceived they were at high risk of the infection were found more likely to be sexually active and involved in risky sexual behaviours such as multiple sexual partnerships. Higher proportion of boys indicated involvement in virtually all the risky sexual behaviours irrespective of their risk perception and reasons. Interventions should focus on other channels of behaviour change towards curbing HIV among adolescents instead of campaigns to raise the level of risk perception among young people.

Keywords: HIV, Risk, Perceptions, Reasons, Sexual, Behaviour

Introduction

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the world region with the highest HIV/ AIDS burden. Like in other parts of the world, adolescents are the most affected in newly reported cases of the infection (Durojaiye, 2009). Up to 60% of new cases of infections occur among young people between 15 and 24 years of age (McManus and Dhar, 2008). Studies have shown that majority of HIV infections all over the world is transmitted through sexual intercourse. In the sub-Saharan African region, heterosexual transmission is the most prominent. Multiple and concurrent sexual relationships have been identified as critical behavioural cause of the devastating pandemic (Bongaarts, Buethner, Heilig and Pelletter, 2008). It is in this light that the need for behavioural adjustment is being canvassed as more effective strategy to curb the spread of the pandemic, especially in Africa (Santow, 2009).

It is thus imperative to identify ways of promoting individual behavioural adjustments required to prevent contact with the infection, especially in the area of sexual behaviour among young persons. Ascertaining the nature of HIV risk perception among adolescents is perhaps one of the initial steps in this regard. Perception of the likelihood of being susceptible or not is expected to inform the realization or not of the need to embrace needed precautionary measures. This is most likely what has informed various studies that have been carried out on the relationship between HIV risk perception and risky behaviour (Adebayo, et al., 2010).

However, previous studies on this relationship limited their analysis to classification of risk perception as high and low. Limiting analysis to this classification precludes the possibility of assessing the effects of the reasons accounting for respondents' indication of high or low HIV risk perception. This study seeks to address this gap by bringing to bear the reasons adduced by respondents for their perceived HIV risk. This strategy is likely to further illuminate the likely effects of their perception on their sexual health behaviour. This focus is a significant research goal in the sense that it is poised to extend the frontier of knowledge on ways to reduce risky behaviour among young people.

Background

HIV knowledge has increased phenomenally since the first case was reported in 1981 in United States of America (Durojaiye, 2009). It is expected that the reported high level of awareness should inform a high level of consciousness of its risks and consequently promote preventive strategies. Surprisingly, studies have shown that in spite of the high level of awareness, many young persons who are the most vulnerable are not apprehensive of the likelihood of being infected (Opt, Loffredo, Knowles and Fletcher, 2008; Bankole and Malrcher, 2010). …

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