CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1  BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is caused by the virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), was first discovered in the 1980 in the United States of America, and now it has spread like flood over the globe (UNAIDS, 2001). At the first discovery of the deadly sickness, it was recorded that 21.8 million people died as a result of it. A breakdown from this data shows that 13.2 million orphaned by AIDS worldwide since the first incident; Ninety-five percent (95%) of them live in Africa. Similarly, it is estimated that about 25.3 million Africans live with HIV or AIDS, with about 150,000 infected on a daily basis (Peltzer et al., 2002). It is observed that this deadly ailment mostly struck young adults between ages 25-45yrs. The record for adolescent is about 60 percent of those infected in many countries; reason being that they are one of the most vulnerable because of the physical, psychological, social and economic attributes of adolescence. For instance, they are more often seen engaging in the following activities sex (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual activities or oral sex), smoking, tattooing, taking drugs (such as marijuana and cocaine), manicure/pedicure, kissing with bruised gum, and drinking alcohol; which at the end of the day leads to contracting HIV/AIDS (Rwenger 2003).

In addition, it has been estimated that 60 percent of Nigerians infected with HIV/AIDS are youths between ages 13 to 25 (UNAIDS Report, 2005). This has greatly affected the workforce of the country as youths make up the greater percentage of workforce of any country.

However, it has been reported that the level of awareness about HIV/AIDS by universities undergraduate is very low, they have little knowledge, alongside many misconceptions about it (Costin et al. 2002). Similarly, University of Lagos undergraduates have knowledge about HIV/AIDS to an extent, at least the various modes of transmission like blood transfusion, sexual contact, and share of sharp objects; but the problem lies in their misconception on its transmission. It is obvious the students are familiar with the term but most of them believe HIV/AIDS can be transmitted kissing, hugging and shaking of hands.

Also, in a study carried out by Okeke and Fortune’s (1992), they revealed that most students were aware that HIV/AIDS could be transmitted through blood transfusion, sexual contact, and sharing of needles with an infected patient; though a few also know that the virus cannot be transferred through sharing of clothes, shaking of hands, kissing, and hugging. It is equally reported that despite the fact that undergraduates were aware of transmission through sex, it still did not stop undergraduates of universities in Nigeria from engaging in unprotected sex. In addition, some of the students have this belief that HIV/AIDS can be transferred through mosquito bites.

It is therefore pertinent at this point to reveal a result of a research carried out by Meneghin (1996), he interviewed 10 university students and 21 detainees of University of Sao Paulo. Of which from the interview, it was discovered that 76.5 percent of the students and 67.9 percent of the detainees were of the opinion that HIV/AIDS was something very far from them, thus a test was conducted on them which instilled fear in about 50% of the students and 67.9 percent of the detainees.

However, it is due to the aforementioned discrepancies about HIV/AIDS among undergraduates in Nigerian universities, University of Lagos to be precise, that this study has been necessitated.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

HIV/AIDS has added to the already poor state of Nigeria in which people die every day due to poverty. The deadly virus has sent many youths who would have contributed to the productivity of Nigeria to their early graves.

In many Nigerian universities, University of Lagos to be precise, many of its students do not know their HIV status because of the many misconceptions they have.

Similarly, unfortunate undergraduates of University of Lagos who are infected with the virus prefer to remain quite about it, instead of being open to help.

All these are the problems that have spurred this study.

1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The major objective of this study is to examine HIV/AIDS: knowledge, attitudes and beliefs among University of Lagos undergraduate students.

Other specific objectives include:

1.To investigate the effects of poor knowledge about HIV/AIDS on undergraduates of University of Lagos.

2.To determine the extent to which undergraduates of University of Lagos are enlightened about HIV/AIDS.

3.To examine if there are courses in the university that promote awareness on HIV/AIDS.

4.To examine the relationship between age and undergraduates of University of Lagos in tackling issues associated with HIV/AIDS.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The following research questions are generated to guide this study:

  1. What are the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs among University of Lagos undergraduate students towards HIV/AIDS?
  2. What are the effects of poor knowledge about HIV/AIDS on undergraduates of University of Lagos?
  3. To what extent are the undergraduates of University of Lagos enlightened about HIV/AIDS?
  4. Are there courses in the university that promote awareness on HIV/AIDS?
  5. What is the relationship between age and undergraduates of University of Lagos in tackling issues associated with HIV/AIDS?

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

H0: The undergraduates of University of Lagos are not enlightened about HIV/AIDS.

H1: The undergraduates of University of Lagos are to an extent enlightened about HIV/AIDS.

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This study aims at informing, educating, sensitizing and enlightening the general public and undergraduates of institutions about how to prevent and manage HIV/AIDS. Similarly, this study is coming on the thrust of reminding the government, tertiary school administrators and non-governmental organizations that much is expected of them in enlightening the general public and undergraduates of universities about HIV/AIDS. They are meant to put programmes and campaigns that will aid this together to achieve excellence.

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.

1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

This study is restricted to HIV/AIDS: knowledge, attitudes and beliefs among undergraduates, with University of Lagos as a case study.

Limitations of study

  1. 1. Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
  2. 2. Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS

HIV/AIDS: AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a syndrome caused by a virus called HIV(Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The illness alters the immune system, making people much more vulnerable to infections and diseases. This susceptibility worsens as the syndrome progresses.

HIV is found in the body fluids of an infected person (semen and vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk). The virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy, delivering the baby during childbirth, and through breast feeding.

HIV can be transmitted in many ways, such as vaginal, oral sex, anal sex, blood transfusion, and contaminated hypodermic needles.

Both the virus and the syndrome are often referred to together as HIV/AIDS. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. As a result, some will then develop AIDS. The development of numerous opportunistic infections in an AIDS patient can ultimately lead to death.

According to research, the origins of HIV date back to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century in west-central Africa. AIDS and its cause, HIV, were first identified and recognized in the early 1980s.

There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS. Treatments can slow the course of the condition – some infected people can live a long and relatively healthy life.

KNOWLEDGE: These are facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

ATTITUDE: A settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.

BELIEF: This is an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

REFERENCES

UNAIDS. 2001. HIV/AIDS in Africa. Retrieved on August 22, 2003 http://www.unaids.org/facts_sheets/files/FS-Africa.htm

Peltzer, K., E. Mpofu, P. Baguma and B. Lawal. 2002. “Attitudes towards HIV-antibody testing among university students in four African countries.”International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 24: 193-203.

Rwenger, M. J. 2003. Poverty and sexual risk behaviour among young people in Bamenda, Cameroon. African Population Studies, 18(2):92-102.

UNAIDS 2005. Report on 2003 global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Geneva.

Costin, A.C., B. J. Page, D. R. Pietrzak, D. Kerr and C.

W. Symons. 2002. “HIV/AIDS knowledge and beliefs among pre-service and in-service school counselors.” Professional School Counseling, 6: 79-85.

Okeke, M.O., and D. A. Fortune. 1992, April-May.“Nigerian University students and AIDS: a survey of knowledge, attitude and perceived needs for effective AIDS education program

“Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, Denver, Colorado”

Meneghim, P. 1996. “Entre o medo da contaminação pelo HIV e as representações simbólicas da AIDS: o’espectro do desespero contemporaneo [Between the fear of HIV contamination and the symbolic representation of AIDS: the specter of contemporary despair].” Revista Da Escola De Enfermagem

Da USP, 303: 399-415