The Acquisition of HIV/AIDS Information by Commercial Sex Workers in Selected Brothels in Lagos State, Nigeria
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos
The study is aimed at one of the ‘vector groups’, the commercial sex workers (CSWs), and how this group acquires, processes, and uses information from the several campaigns on HIV/AIDS in Lagos State, Nigeria. The study explores the application of uses and gratification theory to HIV/AIDS information acquisition by CSWs. The research problem is that CSWs being a “hidden population” are not only at a high risk of HIV/AIDS but are vectors due to several sexual partners, and may not practice safe sex despite their perception of high risk from exposure to several HIV/AIDS campaigns. Using the uses and gratification theory and the theory of reasoned action/planned behaviour, the study investigates how HIV/AIDS information has been utilized by CSWs. The theoretical assumptions of this study are that individual reasoning provides the impetus for human action and behavioural change and that health communication audiences exhibit such information behavior that is typified by active seeking and using of information and messages garnered from multi-media campaigns, in this case, HIV/AIDS communication channels. Population of the study comprises all CSWs in the 20 local governments in Lagos state. Fifteen local governments representing 75% were randomly selected using the table of random numbers. Using the brothels in the sampled local government as a unit of sampling, 70 brothels were identified of which 40 were randomly selected. Fifteen CSWs were conveniently selected from each of the 40 brothels constituting the sample size of 600 CSWs. The study employed a triangulation methodology that includes survey, focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews (IDIs).The survey elicited responses from six hundred commercial sex workers all of whom are brothel-based. Forty eight CSWs (eight FGD sessions consisting of six CSWs per session) further participated in the FGD sessions. Furthermore, another 48 CSWs from the 600 sample size were further subjected to IDIs. Data analysis for the survey was done using the SPSS package 15th version and the FGDs as well as the IDIs transcripts were qualitatively analyzed. The study found that most (60%) of the CSWs interviewed have secondary school level education, and those who have post-secondary education are fewer (10%) and the age range of CSWs indicate that most are between 21 to 29 years. Furthermore, the study also found that most of the CSWs have a good understanding of HIV/AIDS, and have good comprehension and conviction of the multi-media messages to which they have been exposed over the years. They have used HIV/AIDS messages in learning safe sex skills. Also, the perceived risk of the commercial sex workers is relatively high as most of them understand what it takes to prevent HIV/AIDS, and that their work predisposes them to infection should they fail to practise safe sex. However, the study found that the CSWs’ ability to negotiate safe sex is inhibited by economic (monetary gains) and social factors (boyfriends, drunkenness, personal visits, etc.) in spite of their perceived risk of HIV/AIDS. The study recommends more multimedia interventions and campaign assessments, especially interpersonal and community based interventions.