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Young people\'s sexual risk behaviour and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria

CI Tobin-West
MM Mezie-Okoye
S Babatunde


Background: The magnitude and pattern of risk behaviour and awareness of vulnerability of HIV/AIDS in Bayelsa and Rivers State of the Niger Delta region, Nigeria are unknown.
Methods: A cross-sectional design was used to study 533 subjects selected from 55 communities in six Local Government Areas (LGAs) by a four-level, multi-stage sampling technique. A pre-tested, structured, interviewer-administered questionnaire was employed to collect information.
Results: The mean age of the subjects was 18.4 (±3.6) years. More than half (59.4%) were males and the majority had at least a secondary education (86.7%) and were single (95.1%). Most of them (82.2%) were aware of sexually transmitted infections, and 77.9% were aware that condoms prevent transmission of HIV. Seventy-one percent of the young persons were sexually experienced (i.e. previously had sex), 12.9% admitted they had previously had sex in exchange for money, and 63.4% reported ever using a condom. Median age of sexual debut (sexarche) was 15.7 years. Most (82.1%) of the sexually experienced were currently sexually active reporting sexual intercourse within the 6 months preceding survey. Nearly half (47.1%) of these had sex with a casual and/or commercial sex worker without a condom.
Conclusion: Young people are adopting sexual practices that are essentially high-risk, with severe implications for regional and national socio-economic development. This underscores the fact that they know only little and lack skills to protect themselves from being infected with HIV infections, even when they are sexually active. There is therefore need to advocate for and support initiatives that address reproductive health needs of young people in the Niger Delta region.

Port Harcourt Medical Journal Vol. 1 (3) 2007: pp. 161-166

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