1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is caused by the virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), was first discovered in the 1980 in the United States of America, and now it has spread like flood over the globe (UNAIDS, 2001). At the first discovery of the deadly sickness, it was recorded that 21.8 million people died as a result of it. A breakdown from this data shows that 13.2 million orphaned by AIDS worldwide since the first incident; Ninety-five percent (95%) of them live in Africa. Similarly, it is estimated that about 25.3 million Africans live with HIV or AIDS, with about 150,000 infected on a daily basis (Peltzer et al., 2002). It is observed that this deadly ailment mostly struck young adults between ages 25-45yrs. The record for adolescent is about 60 percent of those infected in many countries; reason being that they are one of the most vulnerable because of the physical, psychological, social and economic attributes of adolescence. For instance, they are more often seen engaging in the following activities sex (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual activities or oral sex), smoking, tattooing, taking drugs (such as marijuana and cocaine), manicure/pedicure, kissing with bruised gum, and drinking alcohol; which at the end of the day leads to contracting HIV/AIDS (Rwenger 2003).
In addition, it has been estimated that 60 percent of Nigerians infected with HIV/AIDS are youths between ages 13 to 25 (UNAIDS Report, 2005). This has greatly affected the workforce of the country as youths make up the greater percentage of workforce of any country.
However, it has been reported that the level of awareness about HIV/AIDS by universities undergraduate is very low, they have little knowledge, alongside many misconceptions about it (Costin et al. 2002). Similarly, University of Lagos undergraduates have knowledge about HIV/AIDS to an extent, at least the various modes of transmission like blood transfusion, sexual contact, and share of sharp objects; but the problem lies in their misconception on its transmission. It is obvious the students are familiar with the term but most of them believe HIV/AIDS can be transmitted kissing, hugging and shaking of hands.
Also, in a study carried out by Okeke and Fortune’s (1992), they revealed that most students were aware that HIV/AIDS could be transmitted through blood transfusion, sexual contact, and sharing of needles with an infected patient; though a few also know that the virus cannot be transferred through sharing of clothes, shaking of hands, kissing, and hugging. It is equally reported that despite the fact that undergraduates were aware of transmission through sex, it still did not stop undergraduates of universities in Nigeria from engaging in unprotected sex. In addition, some of the students have this belief that HIV/AIDS can be transferred through mosquito bites.
It is therefore pertinent at this point to reveal a result of a research carried out by Meneghin (1996), he interviewed 10 university students and 21 detainees of University of Sao Paulo. Of which from the interview, it was discovered that 76.5 percent of the students and 67.9 percent of the detainees were of the opinion that HIV/AIDS was something very far from them, thus a test was conducted on them which instilled fear in about 50% of the students and 67.9 percent of the detainees.
However, it is due to the aforementioned discrepancies about HIV/AIDS among undergraduates in Nigerian universities, University of Lagos to be precise, that this study has been necessitated.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
HIV/AIDS has added to the already poor state of Nigeria in which people die every day due to poverty. The deadly virus has sent many youths who would have contributed to the productivity of Nigeria to their early graves.
In many Nigerian universities, University of Lagos to be precise, many of its students do not know their HIV status because of the many misconceptions they have.
Similarly, unfortunate undergraduates of University of Lagos who are infected with the virus prefer to remain quite about it, instead of being open to help.
All these are the problems that have spurred this study.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is to examine HIV/AIDS: knowledge, attitudes and beliefs among University of Lagos undergraduate students.
Other specific objectives include:
1.To investigate the effects of poor knowledge about HIV/AIDS on undergraduates of University of Lagos.
2.To determine the extent to which undergraduates of University of Lagos are enlightened about HIV/AIDS.
3.To examine if there are courses in the university that promote awareness on HIV/AIDS.
4.To examine the relationship between age and undergraduates of University of Lagos in tackling issues associated with HIV/AIDS.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are generated to guide this study: