Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the knowledge, perceptions, andattitudes of male adolescents towards HIV/AIDS in order to institute meaningful preventive measures for the control of HIV/AIDS in Elembelle community.
Method: the study employed Qualitative research approach to address HIV/AIDSprevention among male adolescents. Six male adolescents from six different villages in the Ellembele District formed the study sample. The ages of the subjects range between 15 and 19 years. The method of collecting data was convenience sampling technique. One of the researchers obtained data through semi structured questions.
Findings: The results of the study clearly suggest general HIV/AIDS knowledge maybe high but behavioural change is on the low side, the youth continue to practice risk behaviours. The adolescents see the disease as a threat to the society and are clearly aware of the transmission routes and prevention methods but the virus keeps on spreading among the adolescents.
Conclusion: Various policy makers and implementers should move beyond raisingawareness to focusing on behavioural change because that is the only way to fight the spread of AIDS. Government, opinion leaders and religious bodies should show even stronger commitment in reducing the spread of HIV in the district.
Adolescent, sexual behaviour, perception, attitude, prevention, HIV/AIDS
Since the first reported case of HIV/AIDS in 1981, the disease has had a devastating effect on all components of our society and has become the most deadly infectious disease epidemic in recent times. The disease is seen as a threat to the stability of entire nations and regions affecting the most productive members of the society. HIV/AIDS has become a global phenomenon, however the disease is most pronounced in developing countries particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. The spread of the disease has reached pandemic proportions in most parts of the African continent (Agyei-Mensah 2001).
The numbers of people infected with HIV keeps on increasing particularly among the young people. The estimated number of persons living with HIV worldwide in 2007 was 33.3 million. African continent alone had 22.5 million of the world’s estimated 33.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS (UNSAID/WHO 2007). UNAIDS estimates showed that young people under 25 accounted for about 45% of all new HIV cases (over 6800 people become infected with HIV everyday) in adults in 2007. The disease continues to ravage Sub-Saharan Africa and it remains the most serious of infectious disease challenges in Africa. The leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa is HIV/AIDS (Tanaka, Kunii, Hatano & Wakai 2007).
It is true HIV/AIDS continues to spread among the population of the outlying rural communities in Ghana, with its heavy toll on the 15 – 49 year age groups, who constitute the economically productive sector of the country’s economy. Elembelle community is one of the rural communities in the Western Region,Ghana which has seen increases in the spread of HIV/AIDS. The district has one of the worst HIV/AIDS prevalence in Ghana. As at 2006 it had prevalence rate of 15.5% far higher than the national average of 3.2 the same year. It is important to state that these were reported cases at the hospitals and therefore does not represent real magnitude of the problem. The high HIV/AIDS prevalence is attributed to number of factors including high influx of migrant fishermen, mining workers, and stranded travelers at the boarder and farm laborers. ((Nzema East Municipal 2006).
Prevention supports of donor agencies and the government have been working assiduously to curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic but there has not been any considerable decrease in the prevalent rate within ellembele District. A critical question here is; what could have accounted for this? Prevalence in 15-19 years group shows an increase trend though efforts have been made to slow down the spread. Male adolescents are vulnerable and may be influenced into high-risk behaviours by cultural norms regarding alcohol use, plural or multiple partners and other aspects of social behaviour (Ministry of Health 2001, 37). The gab between male-female ratios regarding the spread of the HIV/AIDS in Ghana used to be wide but recent statistics suggests they are in close balance (Ghana Health Service, 2004). Despite this, few data exist on male adolescent involvement in contracting and transmitting the virus.
The aim of this study was to investigate the knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes of male adolescents towards HIV/AIDS in order to institute meaningful preventive measures for the control of HIV/AIDS in Elembelle community. The findings of this study can be added to the existing body of knowledge on HIV/AIDS in Ellembele District and in Ghana as a whole. The findings of this study will help policymakers and healthcare professionals to develop adolescent centered, all-round and intensive programs that will curtail the spread of HIV in the district.