THE KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTION OF HIV/AIDS RISK BEHAVIOUR AMONG THE STUDENT
Background of the study
The HIV/AIDS pandemic remains a public health challenge of enormous magnitude in the world today. Studies in sub-Saharan Africa have indicated that youth are the hardest hit group by the infections. New HIV infections are heavily concentrated among young people aged between fifteen to twenty four years that is, youth. Young people are particularly vulnerable to HIV infections because of the physical physiological, social and economic attributes of adolescents. Young adults are also at risk as a result of high risky sexual behaviours, attitudes and constraints of the societies in which they grow up. More so peer pressure to obtain luxury item such as expensive clothing, jewelleries, fashionable hair styles, accessories and makeup motivate young women to engage in transactional sex. Youths accounts for sixty percent of people living with HIV/AIDS and forty percent of new infections in Africa (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS,2006 ; Okonta,2007;Bankole,A.A Biddlecom,G.Guiella,S.Singh and E.Zulu,2007).
This pandemic has claimed lives of people in the world including those in working aged group that is young adults between the ages of twenty five and forty five years (Economically active population). This means that people are ill and die during the years in which they are most be economically productive and are expected to play the greatest role as providers and care givers in families and communities and consequently threatening economic development of countries which are severely affected by the disease(Alutu,2000;UNAIDS 2001). Due to its potential negative impact on economic development, prevention of new infections and further spreads of the pandemic is one of the ten millennium development goals (MDGs).
In most countries the HIV epidemic is driven by behaviours that expose individuals to the risk of infection. Information on knowledge and on the level and intensity of risk behaviour related to HIV/AIDS is essential in identifying populations most at risk of HIV infections and in better understanding the dynamics of the pandemic. Nigerian young adults are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS pandemic and often unaware of their personal risk behaviours which predispose to the risk of being infected. Universities in developing countries including Nigeria present a high risk environment for the spread of HIV/AIDS due to the; population of young people who in most cases experiment with sex.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pathogen, the cause of AIDS has become a major concern to Nigerian government and since the outbreak of the HIV/AIDS pandemic over the past decades, government has been confronted with the challenge of finding a lasting solution to this deadly disease. The disease has created health, social and developmental problem for all citizenry in Nigeria. The virus poses a great challenge to science and mankind and has threatened the very gains made by man in the field of medicine towards enhancing life expectancy. As of today no cure has been found for this pandemic. All the efforts on financial and material resources have failed to yields a tangible result with over twenty million people dead and 3.01 million people living with the virus in Nigeria as buttressed by,(Nwqangu, 2006). The HIV/AIDS scourge has been very frightening, hence UNAIDS (2004) pronounced that 1990’s would be declared of AIDS which reveals that there were several people living with the virus. The increasing rate of this infectious disease has been concentrated on some targeted groups kin our society among whom are women, youths, commercial sex workers (C.S.W).
Injecting drug users (IDUs)
Transport workers or long distance drivers
Uniformed men- members of the Armed forces and Police are also considered at risk.
In the year 2003 according to Daniel ((2008) the total number of deportees from Italy was put at 8,670 men and women with the lather constituting the largest. Obviously there would certainly be a lot of such Nigerians in Italy (ladies) who engage in such ignominious role shielded by the cartels who profit at the expenses of morality. No wonder many of such deportations have increased the spread of HIV/AIDS in the society because most of these deportees are carriers of the virus (Daniel,2008). The plague of HIV/AIDS is pandemic, extending far beyond Nigerian with fast growing rates in most independent states. For instance the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in American society is between the ages of 20 and 45 (Peter 2004). This infectious disease was first reported in the united states in 1981 (Sear,2005). Since then it has become a worldwide epidemic.
HIV/AIDS situation in Nigeria
The situation of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria is not different from that of other countries in Africa. The first case according to Omoniyi and Tayo(2006) was seen 1984 in a sexually active thirteen year od girl and was reported officially in 1986. In line with the guidelines from the World Health Organization (W.H.O), the government adopted ANC sentinel surveillance as the system for assessing the epidemics. Sentinel survey data showed that HIV prevalence increased from 1.2% in1991, 1.8% in 1992 to 5.8% in 2001. After 2003 the prevalence declined to 4.4% in 2005 before slightly increasing to 4.6% in 2008. Life expectancy has also dropped from 53years in 1990 to 51years in 2002 with HIV/AIDS being a major factor. Current life expectancy should be 57years if there were no AIDS pandemic. The 2003 HIV Seroprevalence sentinel survey estimated the HIV prevalence for Nigeria at 5%. This figure conceals significant regional differences from 2.3% in Southwest to 7% in Northern central states. Levels of variations are even larger from 1.2% in Osun and 1.5% in Ogun to over 6.0% in Kaduna and 6.35% in Plateau, to 9.3% in Benue and 12.0% in Cross River. All these states in Nigeria have a median prevalence rate of over 1%, F.C.T and 13 states have prevalence of 5% as buttressed by OsetimehimStatement of the problem
Since the discovery of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria in 1984, efforts have been made at managing the situations by various governmental and non-governmental agencies. While these efforts are on those already infected with the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and those that have progressed to full blown AIDS continue to live with both the disease and the attendant stigma. In most primary and secondary schools in Nigeria Health Education is not taught and where it is taught it is done sparsely. This situation is one of the reasons responsible for the poor knowledge of students in matters related to STIs/STDs and HIV/AIDS (Orbuloy, Cadwell and Cadwell 1993).
About half of all HIV infections occur among individuals younger than or about the age of 25 worldwide (Arowojolu, Ilesanmi, Roberts and Okunola, 2002). The lower age limit for admission of into most Nigerian higher institutions is 16-17years this means that majority of undergraduates are in their late teens and early twenties. Most of them live away for the first time from home in school hostels of rented apartments close to the institutions. This arrangement weakens parental control and supervision of student’s activities. They are often exposed to influences that encourage casual sexual relationships and have to take personal important decisions that may be adverse about that social and reproductive lives. Hence there is the need to ascertain such students’ risk practices and those factors that perpetuates HIV/AIDS so as to be able to proffer solution to them and plan reform projects. The need to generate such data constitutes the central problem of this study.
Adolescents and young adults to which students of the University of Benin, Benin City belong are the most vulnerable as well as the most misinformed about HIV/AIDS, yet they take the most risk about sexual activities, although this is understandable because they are obeying natural instincts which are at the peak at their stage of development.
Purpose of the study
The objective of this study is to ascertain the knowledge and perception of HIV/AIDS risk behaviours among University of Benin students (undergraduates) and the implications for Health Education.
The following research questions were raised to guide the study:
What is the level of awareness on HIV/AIDS among students of the University of Benin?
What are those HIV risk behaviours and practices which the students engage in at the University of Benin?
How much knowledge do the students possess about their exposure to HIV/AIDS infection by virtue of certain practice behaviours?
How well is information dissemination on HIV/AIDS carried out within the University of Benin?
What are the influences and roles of the media, family characteristics and Religion on HIV/AIDS risk behaviours of students of the University of Benin?
Significance of the study
The world is a global village, as a result, a problem experienced in one of part might resurface elsewhere, with the same problem still manifesting across the globe. With the rapid spread of this disease, the battle against this disease should be seen as a global problem which calls for universal solution since there is no single strategy that can be used to win the war against HIV/AIDS.
This study will help to reveal the source and adequacy of information on HIV/AIDS in the University of Benin.
It will also expose the students and the larger society to the reality of some practiced behaviours that are likely to predispose them to HIV/AIDS infection.
This study will further increase knowledge of the HIV/AIDS disease with emphasis on the causes of transmission and some workable preventive measures, although it has been demonstrated that increased knowledge about AIDS is not a predictor for behavioural change, but knowledge about the disease is a prerequisite for change.
This study will also serve as a tool for evaluating the efficacy of different strategies employed by the government and non-governmental agencies to combat the HIV/AIDS disease especially among the sexually active individuals (the youths and Young adults).
Delimitation/scope of the study
This research is based on the knowledge and perception of HIV/AIDS risk behaviours among University of Benin Undergraduates students.
It will be restricted to students from different levels and Faculties in the University of Benin.
Definition of terms
Knowledge: Facts, information and skills acquired through experience of a fact or situation.
Perception: The way in which something as regarded, understood or interpreted.
Behaviour: The way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.
Risk behaviour: Specific forms of behaviour which are proven to be associated with increased susceptibility to a specific disease or ill-health.