Assessment of HIV/AIDS awareness and changes in sexual practices among secondary school students in Nsukka environment

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Assessment of HIV/AIDS awareness and changes in sexual practices among secondary school students in Nsukka environment
  ShortReport Assessment of HIV/AIDSawareness and changing insexual practices amongsecondary school studentsin Nsukka environment JMOkonta  BPharm MPharm 1 MAMomoh  BPharm 2 OIEkwunife  BPharm 1 I S UMbagwu  BPharm 2 S OAbali  BPharm 2 1 Departmentof Clinical PharmacyandPharmacy Management,FacultyofPharmaceutical Sciences, UniversityofNigeria; 2 Pharmacy Department, Bishop Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka,Nigeria Correspondence to: O I Ekwunife, Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Management, University of Nigeria,PO Box 3152, Nsukka, NigeriaEmail: TROPICAL DOCTOR  2007;  0:  000–000 SUMMARY  This studyaimedat assessing the awarenessof HIV/AIDS andchangesin sexualbehaviouramong theNigerianteens.Twohundredand fifty secondary schoolstudents wereinterviewed. Only 5% of the respondentswere ableto state the fullmeaningof HIVorAIDS. Amin-ority (28%) believed that HIV wasrealwhilethemajority(72%) believed that HIVinfects whites only. Forty-eightpercentof themhave changed their sexualpractices ow-ing totheAIDS menace. A smallpercentage,12%, believedthat HIV/AIDS could kill.The studyrevealedlowawarenessof HIV/AIDS as wellas misconceptionabout theinfection,especiallyin non-urbanized cities of Nigeria. Introduction For the past 25 years, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has been acause for concern for health professionals, scientists andthe general public. As of the end of 2003, an estimated34.6–42.3 million people throughout the world were livingwith HIV infection, and more than 20 million had died of AIDS. Two-thirds of the infected persons are in Africa. 1 Of the nine countries that have the most HIV-infectedpeople, eight are in sub-Saharan Africa: South Africa (5.3million), Nigeria (3.6 million), Zimbabwe (1.8 million),the United Republic of Tanzania (1.6 million) and fourothers where more than one million people are infected(the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya andMozambique). 2 HIV infection is transmitted through blood and otherbody fluids, mainly sexual fluids and to a lesser extentbreast milk. Heterosexual spread alone accounts for about71% of the cases worldwide, homosexual interactions15%, medical injection and drug abuse 7% and bloodtransfusion 5%. 3 Promiscuity, sexual mixing betweenhigh-risk groups and the rest of the population, con-current multiple partners have been identified as some riskpractices. 4 This has led some researchers to refer to AIDSas a sexual rather than medical problem. 5 Social and behavioural studies are therefore needed todevelop more effective and culturally acceptable preven-tive strategies. 5 The Ugandan case is a good examplewhere a high success rate in terms of HIV awareness andchanges in behaviour towards sex has been reported. 6 Hence, the aim of this study was to assess the level of HIV/AIDS awareness and attitude change in sexualpractices among some secondary school students inNsukka, in the eastern part of Nigeria. Method The study was conducted in Nsukka in eastern Nigeria.Nsukka has a population of about 90,000. Five secondaryschools were arbitrarily selected for the study. Fiftystudents were randomly selected from the pool of studentsduring their early morning assembly with the cooperationof the school authorities. The students were personallyasked the questions by the interviewers orally from theprepared list of questions. The answers supplied orally bythe students were then documented for analysis. Thisschool-based prospective study was conducted from10 May 2002 to 6 April 2005. The interviewees’ answerswere kept confidential. There were a total of 11 questionsand the interview lasted approximately 2min. A total of 250 secondary school students were interviewed. Onehundred percent response was obtained (Figure 1)  Q1 . Dataanalysis All statistical analyses were performed with MicrosoftExcel (Microsoft Corporation, 2002). The  w 2 test was usedto test for significance among groups with regard toproportional data. Group means were reported with theirstandard deviation. A  P  value of   o 0.05 was used toindicate statistical significance. Results In total, 250 secondary school students were interviewed.The study population included 55% females and 45%males. Their mean age was 15.45 7 3.62 years. Ninety-eight percent were Christians. The distribution of thestudy group by these sociodemographic variables isshown in Table 1.Seventy-four percent of the respondents had heard of HIV/AIDS. Knowledge of HIV/AIDS was not found tobe significant between males and females. A total of 5% of the individuals were able to state the full meaning of AIDS. Students in higher classes were more likely to knowthe full meaning of AIDS (4% versus 1%,  w 2 ,  P o 0.01).Only a minority (28%) of the respondents believed thatHIV infection was real. Forty percent (40%) of the studygroup asserted that they had changed their sexualpractices since they heard of HIV infection. The majority Tropical Doctor  Month 2007,  00  1 TD 05  366  (72%) believed that HIV/AIDS was a disease that affectedonly whites. There was no significant difference betweenmales and females in regard to their beliefs. Among therespondents, 18% believed that condoms were 100%protective and used it during sexual relationships. Only asmall percentage, 12%, believed that HIV/AIDS could kill.Many of the students (56%) believed that HIV infectioncould be cured and that there was no cause for alarm. Discussion This study was carried out on secondary school students,who are predominantly male and female teenagersbetween the ages of 12–20 years and led to someremarkable findings. The study revealed low awarenessof HIV/AIDS as well as misconception about theinfection. It reflects a low level of HIV information flowin Nigeria, especially in non-urbanized cities. It is achallenge to the Nigerian government, non-governmentalorganizations, educational bodies and health institutionsto bring to the masses the knowledge and menace of AIDS disease. Perhaps the Ugandan government’sdedication to a policy of openness about HIV/AIDS canbe employed. Several researchers in Uganda havedocumented a high level of information on HIV/AIDS.Konde-Lule  et al. 7 (reported that in focus-groupdiscussions in Rakai district, most respondents had goodknowledge of AIDS transmission, symptoms and preven-tion. A high level of information on HIV/AIDS isgradually followed by a proportionate increase inbehavioural change.Though there is an ongoing campaign against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, there is a need for corresponding result-oriented studies. An invigorating and redirecting HIV/AIDS strategy in Nigeria seems necessary. Behaviouralchange strategies, especially abstinence and one sex partnerfor married people, proves to be the best solution. Effortstoward effective information, education and communica-tion about HIV/AIDS should continue and should bethrough different channels, such as radio, television,newspapers, peer groups and drama so as to capturedifferent audiences. 6 Educational and health institutionsshould be encouraged to participate in preparing anddelivering educational materials. Focus should be on manyrural communities in Nigeria. Collaboration with non-governmental organizations might be beneficial in dissemi-nating HIV/AIDS awareness. References 1 World Health Organisation.  Changing History . Geneva: WHO,May 20042 World Health Organisation.  Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic .Geneva: Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, July 20043 Gonclaves F. The scourge of HIV and AIDS.  S Afr Political Econ Month  1994 Q2 ; 7 :5–84 Caldwell JC, Orubuloye IO, Cad well P. Under reaction toAIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.  Soc Sci Med   1992; 34 :1169–825 National Research Council.  Preventing and Mitigating AIDS insub-Saharan Africa –Research and Data Priorities for the Social and Behavioural Sciences . Washington, DC: National AcademyPress, 19966 Ntozi JPM, Kirunja CT. HIV/AIDS, change in sexualbehaviour and community attitude in Uganda.  Health TransRev  1997; 7 :157–747 Konde-Lule JK, Musagara M, Musgrave S. Focus groupinterviews about AIDS in Rakai District of Uganda.  Soc Sci Med   1993; 37 :679–84 0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%Heardof HIVof HIVHIV/AIDSis realChange of sexual habitsHIV: a white man's diseaseCondoms:100%protectiveHIVHIVcould be cured Meaningcould kill Figure1  Achart of thevarious beliefs of the study population( n ¼ 250) Table1  Characteristicsofthestudypopulation( n =250) Percentage Gender 45%Male 55%FemaleAge 15.45 7 3.62ReligionChristian 98%Moslem --Others 2%ClassUpper class 57%Lower class 43% Short Report  2  Tropical Doctor  Month 2007,  00 TD 05  366  QUERY FORM Royal Society of Medicine AUTHOR :The following queries have arisen during the editing of your manuscript. Please answer the queries by making the requisite corrections at the appropriate positions in the text.   Journal Title: TD Article No: 05-366 Query No.Nature of Query Author's Response Q1 Please confirm if citation of Figure 1 ok here   Q2 Confirm if abbreviated journal name ok in reference 3  GQ Confirm if change in article title   ('changing of' to 'changing in') ok   
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