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AN ANALYSIS OF HIV RISK PRACTICES AMONGST WOMEN OF CHILD-BEARING AGE

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

This project work focuses on an analysis of HIV risk practices amongst Owan East women of child-bearing age.  Owan East L.G.A. is in Edo North Senatorial District. HIV (human immuno deficiency virus) as defined by the Oxford Concise Reference Dictionary of Biology is the retrovirus that causes AIDS in humans.  It has a specific affinity for the helper T cells of its host.  The membrane envelope glycoproteins encasing the virus show great variability in their amino-acid sequences, hence the difficulty of preparing an effective AIDS vaccine. The emergence of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) on the global scene has been a major source of concern worldwide.  It is now a pandemic disease globally.  As at December, 1994, one million, twenty-three thousand and seventy- three (1,023073) cumulative AIDS cases in both adults and children, were reported, which represented a 20% increase since January, 1994 (WHO, 2005).  
The situation in Nigeria is not different from this global trend.  When it was first reported in 1986, the number of HIV positive and reported cases has been on the increase.  A film on the actual victims titled: “The Dawn of Reality”, has been produced.  The fact that many tens of thousands might be carrying the AIDS virus without full manifestation yet is another dimension to this pandemic disease.  The situation may be a little more frightening when the WHO’s projection of 30 – 40 million carrying HIV infection by the year 2000 is considered.  A close analysis of the cases reported shows that almost all groups in the society are affected (Inem et al, 2002).  AIDS,  therefore knows no class.          
On the other hand, sexual transmission has been widely reported as the singular most important mode of transmission, especially amongst the sexually active and economically productive age bracket of 15 – 49 years, of both gender (FMHSS, 2006).  However, the youths who are more sexually active are more susceptible to the disease, since casual and multiple  partners’ sexual habit is one of the major causes.  The modes of transmission of all sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) is through close contacts and sexual intercourse while AIDS is both through sexual intercourse, blood/blood product transfusion and from mother to the infant (NDHS, 2007).  Since AIDS is a life-long disease that will ultimately lead to death, since there is no known cure yet and no vaccine for prevention, all efforts to contain the disease center around education for behavioural change.  The entire population of a country, therefore, has to be segmented and properly targeted for AIDS Education and information (Aboyeji, 2003).
Statement of the Problem          
It has been discovered that close contact such as unhealthy sexual behaviours constitute the highest risk factor causing HIV infection.  Inspite of this most people are yet to change their high risk lifestyles.  Consequently, the primary aim of this study seeks to determine HIV risk practices amongst women of child-bearing age in Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State.  An analysis of HIV risk practices becomes very important as it provides the early signals and warnings of a serious population problem, which might translate in reduced productivity in the country.  Since HIV/AIDS is a life-long disease that will ultimately lead to death, since there is no known cure yet and no vaccine, all efforts to contain the disease centre around education for behavioural change.
Purpose of the Study          
This study seeks to investigate and analyze the HIV risk practices amongst women of child-bearing age in Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State, and to thereby promote behaviours that prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
Significance of the Study          
An analysis of HIV risk practices amongst women of child-bearing age in Owan East Local Government Area will enable the entire population of Nigeria to be segmented and properly targeted for HIV/AIDS Education and information; for raising the level of understanding on the nature and modes of HIV/AIDS; developing the right attitudes that will assist individuals to reject biased information/myths relating to HIV/AIDS infection; developing responsible decision-making behaviour that will protect women of child-bearing age and others from HIV/AIDS; and developing in the youths the necessary skills for healthy human relationship.
Research Questions          
In order to justify an analysis of HIV risk practices amongst women of child-bearing age in this local government, the following questions were raised for the study:
i.   Has Owan East women of child-bearing age significantly exhibited HIV risk practices?
ii.   Is there a significant difference between Owan women of child-bearing age who are indulging in unprotected sex and those who are not indulging  in it?
iii.   Has level of education any influence on HIV risk practices amongst women of child-bearing age in Owan East L.G.A.?      
Hypotheses     
In an attempt to provide answers to the foregoing questions, the following hypotheses were tested in the study:
Ho1:   Owan East women of child-bearing age have not significantly exhibited HIV risk practices.
Ho2:   There is no significant difference between Owan women of child-bearing age who indulge in unprotected sex and those who did not indulge in it.
Ho3:   Level of education has no significant influence on HIV risk practices amongst Owan East women of childbearing age.
Scope of Study (Delimitation)          
Due to financial constraint and time factor, this study was restricted to a sample of some selected 356 women of child-bearing age from the target population.  
Definition of Terms
1.   AIDS - (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) A disease of humans characterized by defective cell-mediated immunity and increased susceptibility to infections.
2.   Glycoproteins:  -  A protein with an admixture of glycogen.
3.   HIV – (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus) The retrovirus that causes AIDS in humans.
4.   HIV Risk Practices -  Practices and behaviours and lifestyles which predisposes one to HIV infection.
5.   Retrovirus  -   An ribonucleic and (RNA) – containing virus that converts its RNA into Dioxiribinucleic acid (DNA) by means of the enzyme reverse transcriptase, enabling it to become integrated into its host’s DNA.
6.   STD  -  Sexually transmitted diseases.

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