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West Afr J Med. 2001 Jul-Sep;20(3):191-8.

Social characteristics, HIV/AIDS knowledge, preventive practices and risk factors elicitation among prisoners in Lagos, Nigeria.

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  • 1Department of Community Health, College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Nigeria.



Although many behavioral research studies and public enlightenment campaigns have been undertaken by both government and non-governmental organizations in the general public, no such study has been documented on prison inmates in Nigeria. This study aimed at documenting the social characteristics, HIV/AIDS knowledge and preventive practices of selected prisoners in Nigeria. It also elicited risk factors HIV/AIDS transmission in Nigeria prisons.


A cross-sectional study of prison inmates using an anonymous risk-factors identification questionnaire was undertaken in January 1997. The Kiri-kiri (maximum, medium and female) prisons were selected by balloting. Thereafter, two hundred and fifty two inmates were selected by systematic random sampling method using the full listing of all inmates as at the time of the survey. The study comprised of an interview session using a well structured questionnaire to seek information about their social data, their knowledge about HIV/AIDS including its transmission and preventive social data, and their indulgence in HIV/AIDS risky behaviour.


The majority (53.6%) of the respondents were in the age group 20-29 years, 18 (7.1%) were less than 20 years old one of whom was in the maximum-security prison and three were females (table 1). The majority (52%) had secondary education while 9.9% had tertiary education and 7.1% had no formal education. About 97.2% of the study population had heard about AIDS although only 20.6% had known or seen someone with AIDS before and about 34.1% knew the causative agent of AIDS. 60.3% knew the correct mode of transmission of AIDS. 15.5% claimed fidelity and 12.7 % claimed use of condom for casual sexual contact, were measures that could help prevent AIDS but 7.9% did not know any preventive measure. Since hearing about AIDS, 59.5% claimed to have taken steps to protect themselves. 42.7% of the 89 who had not taken any protective steps against AIDS had no knowledge of how to protect themselves. About 56.3% claimed to have used condom before although only 38.7% used it for their last sexual exposure while 28.2% claimed they used it for all casual sexual intercourse. Many (42.8%) said they knew that homosexuality was the most prevalent sexual practice in the prison while 28.6% claimed there was no sexual practice and 13.1% feigned ignorance of any sexual practices in the prisons. Many (53.2%) claimed to have multiple sexual partners although 94.8% denied any sexual practice whilst still in prison.


This study demonstrated that (i) almost all THE prisoners studied had heard of AIDS although only a few had seen or known a case of AIDS; (ii) despite the fact that many of them knew the correct modes of transmission, many indulged in high risk behaviours for AIDS transmission; (iii) there is a considerable proportion of receptive naïve inmates who stand the risk of being infected due to their high level of ignorance about HIV/AIDS. Well designed information, education and communication (IEC) programmes on AIDS with such formidable support structures as the provision of harm-reduction devices and risk-reduction counselling are urgently recommended for the Nigerian prisoners to effectively combat the imminent HIV/AIDS epidemic among the prison inmates.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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