1.1 Background to the study
Adolescents have a tendency to engage in high risk sexual and drug-use behaviour; and with a poor health-seeking behaviour, they continue to present the highest number of new cases of HIV reported in Nigeria and in Africa as a continent. The adolescent period is a time of vulnerability during which internal conflict caused by hormonal changes, the influence of peer group, and the attitude and practises of significant adults in their lives such as teachers and parents, societal pressure, norms and values and economic situations all contribute to mould the character and behavioural patterns that are carried onto adulthood (Fernadez, Figueroa, Gomez, Maysonet, Olivares, and Hunter, 2008).
They are a high-risk group, more likely to be engaged in risky sexual and drug- use behaviour, with reduced feelings of vulnerability to disease, and oftentimes, a denial of any chance of infection; and less likely to have adequate knowledge of AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. Unfortunately, with a poor health–seeking behaviour, they are also less likely to seek medical help or counselling.
Thus, they continue to present the highest number of new cases of HIV reported in Africa with about 50% or 7000 young people aged 15-24 years being infected each day, and globally 10 million people aged 13-24 years infected in the last decade (WHO, 2002). The level of accurate knowledge adolescents have about the cause and nature of HIV/AIDS, the methods of spread and the preventive measures will greatly influence their attitude towards the disease entity itself and people living with it, as well as result in a change in their sexual behaviours in favour of abstinence or at least a lower practise of unsafe sex.
Unfortunately, research has shown that the depth of knowledge adolescents have about AIDS varies across the world. Even where there seems to be a high level of knowledge about AIDS, closer investigation will reveal that this knowledge is oftentimes incorrect, and most adolescents lack the skills and knowledge to protect them against AIDS (Fawole, Asuzu, Oduntan and Brieger, 1999). A healthy attitude towards AIDS has been documented in students that have knowledge of HIV and AIDS (Lau and Lee, 2010).
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) can be called our modern pandemic, affecting both industrialized and developing countries. Since the first reported case in June 1981, a lot has been done. Recognized as an emerging disease only in the early 80s, AIDS has rapidly established itself throughout the World, and is likely to endure and persist well into the 21st century. AIDS has evolved from a mysterious illness to a global pandemic, which has infected tens of millions in less than 20 years.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has hit hard in developing countries particularly sub-Saharan Africa. According to recent WHO estimates, at the end of 2001, the number of adults and children living with HIV/AIDS worldwide were about 4.3 million; 28 million adults especially women and children are in Africa. In 2004′ alone, more than 3.4 million new infections were reported while an estimated 2.4 million Africans died of the disease (WHO, 2004).
Over 5 million people are newly infected with HIV/AIDs each year. Human developments gains painstakingly accrued over generations have been wiped out in a matter of a few years in the worst–affected countries. In the absence of a vaccine against cure of HIV/AIDS, there is need for research into issues concerning preventive measures among the risk groups. (UNAIDS/WHO, 2002). Globally, 15,000 new infections occur daily, 5,500 people die of AIDS daily in Africa. Of the five countries with the highest number of AIDS cases, four are found in Africa with Nigeria having the second highest number of cases on the continent (Ejembi, 2001).
In 2005, there were close to five million new HIV infections worldwide, 3,200,000 of these are in sub Saharan Africa alone. In the same year, three million people died of AIDS-related diseases; more than half a million (570,000) were children. Today the total number of people living with HIV stands at 40.3 million, double the number (19.9 million) in 1995. Despite progress made in a small but growing number of countries, the AIDS epidemic continues to outstrip global efforts to contain it. (WHO, 2005).
As with sexually transmitted infections (STI), women are at least four times more vulnerable to infection, the presence of untreated STI is a risk factor for HIV. In addition, coerced sex increases risk of micro lesions. Economic, financial or material dependence on men means that women cannot control when, with whom and in what circumstances they have sex. Many women have to exchange sex for material favours, for daily survival. There is formal sex work but there is also this exchange, which in many poor settings, is many women’s only way of providing for themselves and their children.
Socially and culturally, women are not expected to discuss or make decisions about sexuality, they cannot request, let alone insist on using a condom, or any form of protection. If they refuse sex or request condom use, they often risk abuse, as there is a suspicion of infidelity. The many forms of violence against women mean that sex is often coerced, which is itself a risk factor for HIV infection. For married and unmarried men, multiple partners (including sex workers) are culturally accepted.
Women are expected to have relations with or many older men, who are more experienced, and more likely to be infected. Men are seeking younger and younger partners in order to avoid infection and in the belief that sex with a virgin cures AIDS and other diseases. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) results from a combination of factors triggered off by infection with the Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV).
HIV is a retrovirus with the affinity for the CD4+ cells of the immune system. It is transmissible in the body fluids which include blood and blood products, semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk and saliva. Any activity which results in the entry of infected fluid into the body of a healthy individual leads to infection. Such activities include sexual intercourse (be it heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual activities or oral sex), transfusion of unscreened blood and vertical transmission from an infected mother to her infant at delivery and also during breast-feeding.
Others are sharing/use of infected skin piercing instruments, tattooing and the incision of tribal marks (a common practice in Nigeria especially amongst the Yorubas & Hausas), circumcision, all forms of female genital mutilation, manicure and pedicure, shaving of hair in barbing saloons, sharing of toothbrushes, kissing with bruised gums, breast feeding, accidental needle sticking injuries in hospitals and laboratories are amongst the various modes through which HIV may be transmitted. The principal modes of transmission in Nigeria are sexual (80%) and unsafe blood transfusion (10%), mother to child transmission and drug injecting population are on the increase (Akinsete, 2001). From the above, the study is set to ascertain the knowledge, perception and attitude of secondary school students towards reducing HIV/AIDS in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Looking at the Issues associated with knowledge, perception and attitudes of students towards reducing HIV/AIDS in recent days, It will be seen that students’ knowledge, perception and attitude on HIV/AIDS reduction is not too good. Students do not take the awareness and knowledge of HIV and AIDS in secondary schools very serious rather they turn to stigmatize people living with HIV/AIDS and this turns out to be very dangerous to people living with the disease.
However, the researcher seek to know the appropriate means of imparting knowledge ,creating more awareness to change or reduce the attitude of students towards people living with HIV/AIDS. If these problem is not properly checked and looked into, people living with HIV/AIDS will die by the day because they cannot stand stigmatization, Students are likely to be infected with the disease because they do not take HIV/AIDS awareness serious and this might make them ignorant on how to treat, Handle and Live with people living with the disease. It is the existence of the above issues that motivated the researcher to study the knowledge, perception and attitudes of students towards reducing HIV/AIDS in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Purpose of the Study
This study will try to ascertain the knowledge, perception and attitude of secondary school students towards reducing HIV/AIDS in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State. Specifically, it seeks to:
1. Determine the level of awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among secondary school students in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State.
2. Determine the attitude of students towards people living with HIV/AIDS Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State.
3. Ascertain the effect of culture in the attitude of students towards HIV/AIDS awareness and reduction in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State.
4. Examine the impact of sex education towards reducing HIV/AIDS among secondary school students.
Significance of the study
This study is on the knowledge, perception and attitude of secondary school students towards reducing of HIV/AIDS in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State. The findings from the study will be of immense help to every student, teachers and staff as all are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS which has considerable negative effects of an individual, family and society at large.
To the teachers, the findings from the study will be of immense contribution to teachers’ knowledge of sex education and the importance of educating students so as to help in reducing HIV/AIDS.
To the students, this study will help them to understand and view sex education from the right perspective than looking at people who discuss sex as immoral. Again, they will see the need for abstinence and where they are not able to handle that, they have alternative which is making use of protective measures.
The society will benefit from this study as it will be an eye opener on things the student itch to listen to and the area students ask most of their questions as it has to do with them. Also, will bring about a better society where the knowledge from this study will bring about reduction in the HIV/AIDS victims through sex educationand also make the society to see the issue of sex education as normal just like every other topic and if possible, pay more attention to sex education with the right attitude.
To the government, it will help them see the need for sensitization in secondary schools and encourage individuals, groups and non-governmental organization who in one way or the other try to educate the society on sex matters.
Scope of the study
This study will try to ascertain the knowledge, perception and attitude of secondary school students towards reducing HIV/AIDS in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State. This study will be carried out among secondary school students in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State. The range age of the population to be studied will be between sixteen to twenty five years including male and female students. The study is an assessment of the level of HIV/AIDS awareness and their knowledge leading to attitude behavioural change.
The following research questions guided the study:
1. What is the level of awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among secondary school students in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State?
2. What are the attitude of students towards people living with HIV/AIDS Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State?
3. What are the effect of culture in the attitude of students towards HIV/AIDS awareness and reduction in Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State?
What are the impacts of sex education towards reducing HIV/AIDS among secondary school students?