A major component of HIV prevention is to encourage individuals to appreciate their personal risk of contracting the virus with the aim of encouraging them to take steps to reduce the risks. This article addresses the accuracy of an individual’s risk assessment by matching this with individual’s reported risk behaviours in order to assess possible congruence. Although the relationship between risk perception and risk behaviours has been studied by previous authors using cross-sectional studies, this has not been extensively studied using a large nationally representative data set, such as in Nigeria. In our attempt to address this, we classified HIV-risk behaviour into low-risk and high-risk behaviour. We considered both descriptive and inferential approaches in our analyses. The findings were triangulated with qualitative studies using focus group discussions conducted among members of the target group in Nigeria. Dependence of risk perception on some selected background characteristics, HIV/AIDS-knowledge indicators, experience of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as exposure to the Society for Family Health (SFH) radio campaigns in Nigeria were investigated through multiple logistic regression models. Among the respondents with risk behaviours, being single, Christian, male, and listening to the SFH radio campaigns were associated with a higher perception of risk of contracting HIV.
Keywords: Africa, health behaviour, higher-risk behaviour, optimism bias, perceptions, probability sampling, psychology,
self-report, sexual behaviour, surveys
African Journal of AIDS Research 2010, 9(1): 51–61