ABSTRACT: The study was designed to assess the Adolescents Attitudes And Perceptions Towards Hiv Aids in Akwa Ibom State. In order to effectively execute the study, three research questions were formulated. A descriptive study was used for the survey. The sample size for the study consisted of one hundred and sixty-five students who were drawn from one out of nine public secondary schools in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area. A simple random sampling technique was used in selecting the respondents. Data were collected using the questionnaire and analyzed using frequency tables and simple percentages. The results of the study revealed that (95.8%) of the students had a good level of knowledge about HIV/AIDs and (87.9%) had positive attitude towards people living with HIV/AIDs.
The study also revealed that, great misconceptions still exists among the adolescents population. However, based on the findings from the study, it was recommended that, policy meters school authorities and other stakeholders in educational sector should come forward with a well design enlightenment campaigns on HIV/AIDs in schools and communities for the benefit of the adolescents in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area and Nigeria at large, as such measures will help the adolescents to develop proper understanding of what HIV/AIDs is all about, how it is transmitted and ways of preventing it.
Adolescents Attitudes And Perceptions Towards Hiv Aids in Akwa Ibom State
1.1 Background of the Study
Adolescence is a period of life with specific health and developmental needs and rights. It is a time to develop knowledge, attitude and skills, learning emotions, relationships and acquire abilities that will be important for enjoying the adolescent years and assuming adult roles. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines adolescents as those people between 10 and 19 years of age. This age range falls within the World Health Organization (WHO, 2006) definition of young people in December 4, 2014, which refers to individuals between ages 10 and 24 years. The great majority of adolescents are therefore, included in the age-based definition of a child, adopted by the World Health Organization convention on the right of a child as a person under the age of 18 years.
According to 2013 reports from Nigerian Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), there are over 1.8 billion adolescents and young people (AYP) in the world with 90% living in developing countries where they tend to make-up one third of the population. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) including Nigeria, the population of adolescents continues to grow substantially. The adolescents are an important target population of every society, in that sooner or later they will transit into the workforce of the nation (Eze, 2005). Adolescents are also seen as the window of hope because they have great potentials for positive change of attitude and behaviour. But these adolescents are so full of curiosity on certain lifestyles including sex and experimentation often exposed them early to the risk of several health problems including HIV/AIDS infection. The majority of adolescents living with HIV/AIDS are in a low and middle income countries such as Nigeria. The spread of HIV/AIDS among adolescents and young persons is a major public health concern in Nigeria. Even though the infection affects all the ages of the population, the epidemic among adolescents is the fastest growing, partly because of adolescents vulnerability and low use of preventive services, (UN AIDs, 2013).
Focusing on adolescents and young people is likely to be the most effective approach to combating the HIV/AIDs epidemic, particularly in high prevalence countries or localities. HIV as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2006), stands for Human Immune Deficiency virus in that it affects only human beings. HIV attacks the human immune system, the body’s defence against invading disease. HIV damages the human immune system by systematically destroying an important type of white blood cells called CD4 cells or T4 cells. HIV is the virus that causes AIDs. On the other hand, AIDs means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in that, scientist believed that the first human that was diagnosed with the signs and symptoms of the disease was not born with it, but rather acquired or contacted it from the animals. AIDs arises as the outcome of damage to the immune system caused by HIV. When the body is severely weakened by HIV, it can be attacked by a number of serious opportunistic disease condition like tuberculosis (TB). AIDs exerts a heavy toll on its victims and it compromised people’s way of life and dramatically increased their risk of death.
An attitude can be defined as a positive or negative evaluation of people, objects, events, activities, ideas or anything in our environment. Attitude almost involves a certain amount of bias or prejudging on our part. In a sense, attitudes are perceptions that involve emotional feelings or biases and they predispose us to act in a certain way. Hornby (2007), identified attitudes as the way that one thinks and feels about somebody, something, the way one behaves towards somebody or something that shows how one thinks or feels.
The word perception is derived from a Latin word percipio which means conscious understanding of something. In a sense, perception simply means organization, identification and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. It is a known fact that, many adolescents in Nigeria still do not believe that HIV/AIDs is a reality. They have wrong perceptions about HIV/AIDs varying from the assumptions and misconceptions that, one act of sexual intercourse with an infected person cannot lead to infection. That they can recognized every HIV/AIDs positive persons by their physical appearance. That HIV/AIDs is a threat used by adults to deter adolescents and young people from fornication and immorality. That HIV/AIDs cannot be adequately and completely avoided because of its numerous ways of transmission. That HIV/AIDs is a strategic fiction which the white-men have fabricated against the developing countries in particular, so that they can sell their condoms.
However, although most adolescents have knowledge about HIV/AIDs, but due to the fact that they are sexually active especially of school age and in an environment free from their parents restrictions, they still indulge in pre-marital sexual activity at any given opportunity (Harley, 2008). This increasing rate of adolescents involvement in sexual activity has given a great concern to all Nigerians especially in this era of increasing number of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDs. Inspite of this increasing concern for the dreaded disease HIV/AIDs, the knowledge, attitude and perception of how the disease is transmitted and prevented has continued to be fraught with speculation particularly in Nigeria. Hence, this research work is focusing on adolescents attitude and perception towards HIV/AIDs.
It is imperative therefore that, maximum care and massive re-orientation should be given to the adolescents in any society concerning challenging health issues such as HIV AIDs scourge, so as to keep them in good health for life continuity and optimum productive output necessary for development and growth.
Adolescents Attitudes And Perceptions Towards Hiv Aids in Akwa Ibom State
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The disease HIV/AIDS, unlike most other diseases is posing a serious challenge particularly to many localities of the developing countries including Nigeria and even to the world in general. A lot of effort have been made about the HIV/AIDs disease by government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in terms of prevention and finding its cure.
In recent times, it has been observed that, in most localities in Nigeria, adolescents and young person population are disproportionally affected by HIV/AIDs transmission. Hence, this current status of HIV/AIDs infection rates among adolescents and young persons in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area prompted this study in Afaha Offiong Village, Nsit Ibom Local Government Area.