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Knowledge of HIV/AIDS and use of mandatory premarital HIV testing as a prerequisite for marriages among religious leaders in Sokoto, North Western Nigeria

SA Umar
OM Oche


Background: In Sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 1.8 million became infected with the HIV in 2009 and Nigeria currently has about 3.4 million people living with HIV. Measures put in place by religious organizations to combat HIV/AIDS in Nigeria include mandatory premarital HIV testing. The knowledge of HIV/AIDS amongst religious leaders in Nigeria has not been sufficiently explored . In this study, we assessed the knowledge of HIV/AIDS amongst religious leaders in Sokoto and if they routinely demand for mandatory premarital HIV testing for all intending couples.
Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study involving 158 religious leaders (30 Christians and 128 Muslims) who officiate or assist during marriages. Data was collected using interviewer and self administered questionnaire which sought such information as biodata, knowledge of HIV/AIDS , speaking to congregation about AIDS and using Premarital HIV status as a pre-requisite for contracting marriages. Data was entered into and analysed using Epi-info computer soft ware program. Level of statistical significance was put at P=0.05.
Results: The ages of the respondents ranged from 35 to 78 years with a mean age of 26.3 ± 20.3 years. Forty nine percent of the respondents had adequate knowledge of HIV/AIDS with more Christian clerics compared to Muslim Clerics having better knowledge of HIV/AIDS (P<0.0001). All the Christian clerics opined that they would insist on mandatory premarital HIV testing for their subjects before joining them in marriages.
Conclusion: The results of the study have shown that most of the religious leaders lacked adequate knowledge of HIV/AIDS and the use of mandatory premarital HIV testing is yet to be adopted by the Muslim clerics. Awareness campaigns should be intensified for the religious leaders to improve their knowledge of HIV/AIDS.

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