Knowledge of AIDS
and HIV Risk-Related Sexual Behavior Among Nigerian Naval Personnel
BMC Public Health, (06.04) Vol. 4
BMC Public Health (06.04) Vol. 4; No. 24:
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-4-24::Ugboga Adaji Nwokoji; Ademola J. Ajuwon
Nigeria's HIV epidemic continues to grow, and Nigerian military
personnel are at increased HIV risk. While the sexual risk-related
behavior of Nigerian police has been studied, less is known about their
naval counterparts. The current study describes the knowledge of AIDS
and sexual risk behavior of naval personnel stationed in Lagos, Nigeria.
In 2002, 480 naval personnel (mean age 34 years) completed a 70-item
questionnaire about AIDS awareness and sexual behavior. Researchers also
conducted group discussions and more extensive interviews of four key
informants to gain insights into the context of sexual risk behavior and
feedback about realistic HIV prevention interventions.
Out of a potential 10 points on AIDS knowledge, the respondents scored a
mean 7.1 points. More than half - 52.1 percent - of respondents believed
an AIDS cure was available in Nigeria, and 25.3 percent believed HIV
infection could be acquired by sharing personal items with an
HIV-infected person. The participants' had a mean of 5.1 lifetime sexual
Nearly a third, 32.5 percent, had had sexual contact with a female sex
worker, and 19.9 percent of the sailors had used a sex worker's services
during the preceding six months. In terms of sexual risk, 41 percent of
those who had sexual contact with a female sex worker did not use a
condom during the most recent encounter. Sailors who had been
transferred abroad reported significantly more risky sexual behaviors
During discussions and interviews, researchers found that key informants
believed that sex with multiple partners is a persisting tradition in
the era of AIDS because many sailors presume AIDS affects only
foreigners. The authors found the use of alcohol influenced sexual risk
behaviors and that some sailors believe traditional medicine protects
them against HIV infection.
Many naval personnel report high-risk sexual behavior that may increase
their risk of acquiring and spreading HIV, the authors conclude. Naval
personnel live and freely interact with the civilian population and are
a potential bridge for HIV's spread into the general population.
Feasible HIV prevention interventions include a sustained education
program, condom promotion, and changes to policies covering transferals
of naval personnel, the authors concluded.
Source: CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update 10/05/04