PERCEPTION AND AWARENESS OF HIV/AIDS AMONG WOMEN FARMERS IN EBONYI STATE NIGERIA: NEED FOR COUNSELLING AND VOLUNTARY TESTING (Published)
Perception and level of awareness of HIV/AIDs among women farmers in Ebonyi State, Nigeria was studied. The study employed purposive and multi-stage random sampling techniques in the selection of 120 rural women farmers. Primary data were collected using a well-structured questionnaire and interview schedule. These were analyzed with descriptive and inferential statistics. The result of data analysis showed that majority 38.33 percent of the women farmers fall within age bracket of 26-35 years; their farming experience ranged 5-10 years with 36.67 percent; while their farm size ranged between 1.1-1.5 hectares. Majority 60.82 percent of the women were married and completed primary education with 38.33 percent. Majority 41.67 percent of the farmers live with between 4-6 persons in their household and earned between N80, 000-N100, 000 per annum. About 66.66 percent of the women belonged to 3-4 social organizations. Major sources of information on HIV/AIDs prevention to the rural women were: Ebonyi State Ministry of Health (2.90), religious institutions (3.12), social organizations (2.84), radio (3.67) and Ebonyi State Action Committee on Aids (EBOSACA) (3.66) among others Further analysis indicates that majority 100 percent of the respondents’ perceived that an HIV victim can live long on a special type of drug and hygienic condition (100 percent), HIV/AIDs is a viral disease (91.67 percent) while 85 percent perceived that HIV/AIDs exist and has no cure. All the women in the study area had knowledge of measures of HIV prevention such as total abstinence from sex, having one sex partner and screening of blood before transfusion. Majority 81.67 and 76.67 percent of the respondents were willing to be tested and would recommend it to their friends and family members. It was concluded that though the general level of awareness about HIV/AIDs was high, the perceptions of the respondents were faulty in some cases because of some misconception about causes and therapy to the disease. Necessary recommendations such as intensified awareness creation by the NGOs and concerned agencies, provision of infrastructures as well as education of farmers were made among others.