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Knowledge about HIV/AIDS Among Pregnant Women in Lagos, Nigeria
HIV infection continues to increase rapidly in the developing world, especially in Africa and Asia. Although the HIV epidemic has for the most part affected men the world over; this is not so in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is a major health threat to women especially those of reproductive age. In Nigeria, more women are now living with HIV/AIDS most of who are in the active reproductive age-group.
The HIV seroprevalence among Nigeria pregnant women has been on the increase, from 1.8% reported in 1991, 3.8% in 1993, 4.5% in 1995 to 5.4% in 1999 and most recently to 5.8% in 2001. This alarming increase has been of great concern and the figures reported so far may even be a conservative estimate as the data were obtained from sentinel surveys. Although the HIV prevalence levels may seem low, in actual numbers of persons infected, it is high considering that Nigeria has a population of 120 million people. Nigeria has one of the largest HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world – fourth only to India, Ethiopia and South Africa.
Ninety percent of children living with HIV were infected by their mothers. Several studies have shown that antenatal HIV screening and subsequent perinatal intervention such as antiretroviral drugs, elective caesarean section and not breastfeeding reduce perinatal transmission. Prevention of mother to child transmission (MTCT) will therefore reduce the prevalence of HIV in children. This has both social and economic implications because children are the future of any country and they need to be healthy. Improving the knowledge of pregnant women would influence their attitudes towards voluntary counseling and testing and thus protect their children from HIV/AIDS.
NQJHM Vol. 14 (3&4) 2004: pp. 262-265