KNOWLEDGE, PERCEPTION, AND ATTITUDE OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS TOWARDS REDUCING HIV/AIDS
Background to the study
HIV stands forHuman Immuno deficiency Virusand it affects only human beings. It attacks the human immune system, the body’s defence against invading diseases. It damages the immune system by systematically destroying an important type of white blood cell, CD4 cells or T-cells (Williams, 2000). On the other hand, AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the last phase of HIV infection .When the body is severely weakened by HIV, it can be attacked by a number of serious conditions which is then referred to as AIDS (Kawanza, 1999). HIV is a virus that damages the immune system. The immune system helps the body fight off infections. Untreated HIV infects and kills CD4 cells, which are a type of immune cell called T- cells. Over time, as HIV kills more CD4 cells, the body is more likely to get various types of infections and cancers. HIV is a lifelong condition and currently there is no cure, although many scientists are working to find one. However, with medical care, including treatment called antiretroviral therapy, it’s possible to manage HIV and live with the virus for many years. Without treatment, a person with HIV is likely to develop a serious condition called AIDS. At that point, the immune system is too weak to fight off other diseases and infections. Untreated, life expectancy with AIDS is aboutthree years. With antiretroviral therapy, HIV can be well-controlled and life expectancy can be nearly the same as someone who has not contracted HIV.
HIV kills CD4 cells. Healthy adults generally have a CD4 count of 500 to1,500 per cubic millimeter. A person with HIV whose CD4 count fallsbelow200per cubic millimeter will be diagnosed with AIDS.
A person can also be diagnosed with AIDS if they have HIV and develop anopportunistic infectionor cancer that’s rare in people who don’t have HIV. An opportunistic infection, such as pneumonia, is one that takes advantage of a unique situation, such as HIV.(Daniel, 2018)
Untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS within a decade. There’s no cure forAIDS, and without treatment, life expectancy after diagnosis is about threeyears. This may be shorter if the person develops a severe opportunisticillness. However, treatment with antiretroviral drugs can prevent AIDS from developing. If AIDS does develop, it means that the immune system is severely compromised. It’s weakened to the point where it can no longer fight off most diseases and infections. That makes the person vulnerable to a wide range of illnesses, including:pneumonia,tuberculosis, oral thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth or throat, cytomegalovirus (CMV), a type of herpes virus,cryptococcal meningitis, a fungal infection in the brain,toxoplasmosis, a brain infection caused by a parasite andcryptosporidiosis, an infection caused by an intestinal parasite( Daniel, 2018)
There were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2016 (Global data from UNAIDS, 2016). Of these, 2.1 million were children (15 years old). An estimated 1.8 million individuals worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2016, about 5000 new infections per day. This includes 160,000 children (15 years). Most of these children live in Sub-Sahara Africa and were infected by their positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. As of July 2017, 20.9 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, up from 2015, 7.5 million in 2010, and less than one million died from AIDS-related illness in 2016, bringing the total number of people who have died of AIDS-related illness since the start of the epidemic to 35.0 million(Global data from UNAIDS, 2016).
HIV is a retrovirus with the affinity for CD4 cells of immune system. It is transmissible in the body fluid, which includes 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 healthy individuals leads to infections. Such activities include intercourse (be it heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual activities or oral sex), transfusion of unscreened blood and vertical transmission from infected mother to child at delivery and also during breast feeding.
Other ways through which HIV can be transmitted is through sharing of needles when shooting drugs, Home tattooing and body piercing, accidental needle sticks,Organ transplantation, incision of tribal marks (a popular act amongst the Igalas, Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas, Tivs), circumcision, manicure and pedicure (especially for females), shaving of hair in barbing saloons, kissing with bruised gums, sharing of toothbrushes, e.t.c. The key populations most affected by HIV in Nigeria are sex workers with an HIV prevalence of 14.4 percent, Gay men and other men who have sex with men, with a prevalence of 23 percent and people who inject drugs with an HIV prevalence of 3.4 percent (Nigeria UNAIDS, 2016).
Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world and has one of the highest new infection rates in Sub-sahara Africa Nigerian (UNAIDS, 2016). Many people living with HIV in Nigeria are unaware of their status due to the country falling short of providing the recommended number of testing and counseling sites.
In Enugu State, the prevalence rate of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is undulating making them the fourth in the country and the highest in the south Eastern Nigeria(ENSACA, 2005.) Enugu State Action committee on AIDS, estimated the number of HIV carriers at Enugu ranging from 5.2% in 2003 and 6.5% in 2005 and they attributed it to factors like poverty, ignorance, early, debut stigma and discrimination, multiple sex network e.t.c (ENSACA, 2005). This area of the study is Enugu State and is important to know the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in order to enlighten the students on how to take care of themselves.
Knowledge is a social acts (Firestone and MCElroy, 2003). It is an understanding premised on experience (Firestone and MCElroy, 2003). Knowledge is experience or information that can be communicated or shared (Christensen 2001) based on information and experience. Knowledge is to be aware of something through observation, inquiry or information. The knowledge that students have about HIV/AIDS will be beneficial in dealing with HIV/AIDS
Perception is concerned with the process by which our five senses are organized and interpreted (Solomon and Rabolt, 2004). Perception can be defined as the process by which an individual selects, organizes and interprets stimuli into a meaningful and coherent picture of the world (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2000). Perception is the ability to see, hear and become aware of something through the senses and also the way in which something is understood, regarded and interpreted. How students see HIV/AIDS, interprets it and people living with HIV/AIDS matters in this study because it will help to reduce it.
Attitude is central to understanding human being’s unique ability to create elaborate predispositions and evaluations based on their social experiences (Joseph P, 2010).
Attitude is a lasting organization’s beliefs and cognitions in general, endowed with an emotional charge in a favour or against a defined object, which predisposes to a consistent action with cognitions and emotions relating to the object; It is a settled way of thinking.
Adolescences, which is from 11-19 years,(Secondary school students arte within this age bracket); It begins at the end of childhood and closes at the beginning of adulthood (Conger, Kegan and Mussen, 2004). Adolescents have a tendency to engage in high risk sexual and drug-use behaviours, and with a poor health-seeking knowledge, 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, influence of peer group, Societal pressures, norms and values and economic situations all contribute to mould the character and behaviours that are carried into adulthood (Fernadez, Figueuroa, Hunter, Gomez, 2008).
Thus they continue to present the highest number of 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 decades (WHO, 2002). The levels of accurate knowledge adolescence have about the cause and nature of HIV/AIDS, the method of spread and 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 practice of unsafe sex. 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 adolescent lacks the skills and knowledge to protect them against AIDS (Fawole, Ansuzu, Odunta and Brieger, 1999). It has been documented that students that have knowledge of HIV/AIDS show a healthy attitude towards HIV/AIDS (Lau and Lee, 2010).
Human developments gain painstakingly accrued over generations have been wiped out in a matter of a few years in the worst affected countries. In the absence of vaccines against HIV/AIDS, there is need for research into issues concerning preventive measures among the risk groups (UNAIDS/WHO, 2002). 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).
From the above, the study is set to discover the knowledge, perception and attitude of secondary school students towards reducing HIV/AIDS in Enugu north LGA of Enugu state.
Statement of the Problem
The issues associated with knowledge perception and attitudes of senior secondary school students towards reducing HIV/AIDS for a short while ago is not encouraging because students’ knowledge, perception and attitude on HIV/AIDS reduction is not good. Students have failed to take the awareness and knowledge of HIV/AIDS in senior secondary school seriously. Rather they ignorantly contact the disease through unprotected sex and other means.
The researcher however intends to know the appropriate or correct means of educating the students, imparting knowledge to them and creating more awareness to tame the rising tide of HIV/AIDS among the populace. If this problem is not properly handled, students will likely be infected with disease because they do not take HIV/AIDS awareness and education seriously and also people with HIV/AIDS will die due to stigmatization. The researcher was spurred into this work following total lack of knowledge, perception and poor attitude of students towards the dehumanizing effect of HIV/AIDS in Enugu North LGA of Enugu state. Hence the question what is the knowledge, perception and attitudes of students towards reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS among students in Enugu North Local Government area of Enugu state.
Purpose of the Study
The major purpose of the study is to determine the knowledge, perception and attitude of senior secondary school students towards reducing HIV/AIDS in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu state. The study specifically seeks to:
1. Find out the level of knowledge about HIV/AIDS among senior secondary school students in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
2. Determine the perception of senior secondary students in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State towards people living HIV/AIDS.
3. Determine the attitude of senior secondary school students towards reducing HIV/AIDS in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Significance of the study
The findings of the study would be significant both theoretically and practically. Theoretically the study is based on Social Action Theory which was developed as an extension of individual’s level on psychological methods to address the broad complexities of public health. The overarching goal is the detection and manipulation of environmental and self-regulating skills/deficits that can promote health behaviours and habits. The findings would help students to promote their health behaviours and self regulatory skills which would be beneficially in HIV/AIDS reduction.
Practically, the findings of the study will benefit the students, teachers, parents, society and all vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
To the students, this study will be of help to them in understanding the negative effects of HIV/AIDS, to appreciate sex education and avoid illicit sex, to know how to treat people with HIV/AIDS
To the teachers, the findings of the study will help them to know the importance of sex education and the need to educate the students on sex to reduce HIV/AIDS.
To the society, the findings of the study will help to bring a better individual which will produce a better society. The knowledge got from this study will bring about reduction in HIV/AIDS victims through sex education.
All those vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, the study will educate them on how to manage the disease, live freely with others and maintain a normal life like everyone.
Scope of the study
This study is to determine the knowledge, perception and attribute of senior secondary school students towards reducing HIV/AIDS in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State. The age range of the population to be studied will be between 14 years to 21 years including male and female students.
The following research question guided the study
1. What is the level of knowledge about HIV/AIDS among senior secondary school students in Enugu north LGA of Enugu State.
2. What is the perception of secondary school students towards people living with HIV/AIDS.
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