Sexual Behavior, HIV/AIDS Epidemic and Sustainable Development in Nigeria: A Gender Perspective

By Oyefara, John Lekan | Journal of Sociological Research, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Sexual Behavior, HIV/AIDS Epidemic and Sustainable Development in Nigeria: A Gender Perspective


Oyefara, John Lekan, Journal of Sociological Research


Abstract

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. With an estimated population size of over 160 million and HIV prevalence rate of 4.6 percent in 2008, over 5 million Nigerians are currently living with HIV. Using data from Nigeria's national surveys such as Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (2008), Antenatal Sentinel Surveys (1991-2008), National HIV/AIDS and Reproductive surveys (2003-2007), HIV/AIDS Behavioural Surveillance Survey (2000) and HIV/STI Integrated Biological Behavioural Surveillance Survey (2008) this paper examines the driving forces of HIV transmission in Nigeria. Findings of the study revealed that men are more likely than women to have multiple sexual partners, practice unprotected sex and engage in transactional sex. In conclusion, it has been recommended that efforts need to be put together to strengthen Nigerian women economically and socially in order to reduce their level of vulnerability an susceptibility to HIV infection and there is a need to strengthen the national HIV/AIDS response mechanisms, most especially at local government level to include improvement of women economic power, promotion of women's reproductive health rights and self esteem, prevention of mother to child transmission and total eradication of obnoxious cultural practices that made women to be at high risk of the virus.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Sexual Behaviour, Gender, Development, Nigeria.

Introduction

The HIV/AIDS pandemic constitutes one of the greatest health and developmental challenges of our time. The result of the 2008 HIV sentinel surveillance using pregnant women attending antenatal clinics has further confirmed the magnitude of the problem in Nigeria. The epidemic has affected all the geopolitical zones, states and locations of the country with wide disparities. The National HIV prevalence among women attending antenatal clinics in Nigeria in 2008 was found to be 4.6%. The prevalence ranged from 1.0% in Ekiti State to 10.6% in Benue State. All the States of the Federation and FCT were affected by the epidemic with none recording less than 1.0% prevalence (FMH, 2008). The first cases of HIV/AIDS were diagnosed among some homosexual in 1981 at the United States of America (FMHSS, 1992; Daini, 2002). Barely 30 years after, the disease has permeated the nine continents of the world with over 60 million people being infected with HIV infection (Kiragu, 2001). The hyper-geometric rate of spread and transmission of HIV/AIDS pandemic raises some fundamental questions about the nature and major route of contracting HIV/AIDS infection/disease in general form. The questions are: What is the major route of contracting HIV infection that makes every human being in the world vulnerable to the disease? Are there socio-cultural, economic and demographic factors that make some set of people in a particular region, section and community more susceptible to the pandemic? Is Sociological enterprise useful in identifying these factors? and finally, what can be done to stem the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic among every human race, especially in Nigeria? Are there any gender dimensions to the spread and effects of the pandemic? The next sections of this article will provide answers to these questions.

National Response to HIV/AIDS in Nigeria: Structure and Effectiveness

A national health sector-based response was established in 1986 following the emergence of the epidemic in the country with Federal, State and LGA structures to drive it. In 2000, an expanded national multi-sectoral response was put in place with the establishment of a Presidential Council on AIDS (PCA) and National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA) to drive the response. State Action Committees on AIDS (SACAs) and Local Government Action Committees on AIDS (LACAs) also came into operation. Prevention, treatment, care and support interventions have continued to expand impressively since then, guided by appropriate policies (e.g. National HIV/AIDS Policy), strategic plans (e. …

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