Young Peoples' Knowledge and Awareness of HIV/AIDS: A Case for Rural Based Studies.
The proper control and management of Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) disease can only be achieved in Nigeria when residents in both urban and rural areas are well informed and have adequate knowledge of the mode of transmission of the disease as well as its preventive measures. This becomes necessary considering the proportion of the population residing in the rural communities and their inadvertent neglect in matters that require immediate and urgent attention. Most young people are known to be sexually active, indulging in unprotected sex and keeping multiple sexual partners. This has grave consequences in this era of HIV/AIDS pandemic and requires unalloyed commitment and cooperation from all and sundry. It has been documented that 50 percent of all HIV infections the world over occur among young people below 25 years of age, a period characterized by high sexual exploration and experimentation. Also 7000 new infections that occur on a daily basis have been found to take place among the group (WHO, 1998) stressing the inevitability to empower them with the right knowledge. Several studies conducted in different parts of the country have revealed a concentration of such studies in the urban areas to the total neglect of the rural communities. In addition, these studies revealed wide knowledge and awareness of the dreaded disease, however, this knowledge and awareness has not been translated into positive behaviour to help stem this dangerous tide. The situation might be worse in the rural communities where information on the existence of the disease and ways of preventing its spread may not be available. The young ones in the rural areas are not equipped with the correct information to cope with the crisis at hand. There is the possibility of continuing with their usual lifestyles, which exposes them to dangerous health problems, a situation which, if left uncontrolled, might deny this country of future inhabitants. This paper looks at some of the findings of studies conducted by researchers across the country with a view to ascertaining the extent of knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS among urban and rural inhabitants. It found a dearth of such data in the rural areas. The paper therefore recommends a refocus of the knowledge and awareness studies in the rural areas where significant proportions of young people resides and are in constant touch with the urban dwellers that may likely infect the unsuspecting rural inhabitants.